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April 2015

Access to Mental Health Services: Implementing an Integrated Solution

Author Affiliations
  • 1Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • 2College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • 3The Research Institute, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(4):299-300. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.3558

Pediatric mental disorders affect 1 in 5 children, and most serious mental disorders begin early in life, approximately 50% by age 14 years and 75% by age 24 years.1 The Surgeon General’s report2 on mental health called national attention to the public health relevance of pediatric mental disorders, citing encouraging news of an increasing number of evidence-based treatments, as well as the discouraging news that most youth struggling with mental disorders receive no mental health services and that even when services are accessed, they are often inadequate in quality and/or quantity. More than a decade later, still less than half of young people with a mental disorder obtain treatment.3 Given that mental health and substance use disorders are risk factors for several leading and potentially remediable causes of death, such as accidents, violence, and suicide, this disturbing reality likely has serious consequences for morbidity and mortality in the pediatric- and transitional-aged population. For example, a growing body of evidence indicates that improving access to effective mental health care can reduce suicide risk in young people.4