Objective: This study examined correlates of use of outpatient and inpatient mental health services and psychotropic medication in a large, nationally representative sample of young adults ages 18-26 with mental illness (N=22,600).
Methods: Data were from the 2008-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationally representative survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population. Separate logistic regression models examined past-year use of three mental health service types (outpatient services, inpatient services, and psychotropic medication). Correlates included demographic characteristics, factors developmentally relevant to young adults, and general medical and mental health status.
Results: Within this sample of young adults with mental illness, 20.4% used outpatient services, 3.6% used inpatient services, and 25.4% used psychotropic medication. Variables associated with use of one or more types of mental health services included being female (outpatient and medication), one to two moves in the past year (medication), having health insurance (all types), past-year criminal justice involvement (all types), poor health (inpatient and medication), substance use disorders (inpatient and medication), and mental illness with severe impairment (all types). Non-Hispanic blacks, Asians, and Hispanics were less likely than non-Hispanic whites to receive outpatient mental health services or psychotropic medications. Surprisingly, young adults employed full-time were less likely than those who were unemployed to receive services, and living with a partner (versus living alone) was not associated with a likelihood of using outpatient services.
Conclusions: Results support the unique nature of young adulthood and the need to tailor mental health services to close gaps in service use during this developmental period.