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Editorial
January 2014

Mental Health Services for Children and AdolescentsChallenges and Opportunities

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
  • 2Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
  • 3The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Washington, DC
JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(1):17-18. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.3193

We clearly are at the cusp of great change in our health care system, which raises important questions: What will the delivery of mental health services look like in the near future? Will the treatment be evidence based? How much will it cost? Will our patients get better treatment, and how will the outcomes be measured? Olfson et al1 address how best to understand the delivery of outpatient mental health services in light of how the provision of these services has evolved over 15 years. They reviewed nearly 500 000 national ambulatory medical care surveys to identify psychiatric treatment trends between 1995 and 2010. They looked at mental health care indicators across the age range. They compared the background and clinical characteristics of children, adolescents, and adults whose recent visits (2007-2010) resulted in a mental disorder diagnosis. The 4 general indicators of mental health care that the authors looked at were clinical mental disorder diagnosis, psychotropic medication prescription, psychotherapy provision, and psychiatric care.

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