Mental Health Service Use in Adolescence: Findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Objective: This study examined mental health service use, by service type, of adolescents ages 12–17. Methods: Data were from approximately 113,000 adolescents who participated in the 2008–2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationally representative survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population. Polynomial contrasts tested for linear and quadratic changes across age in the use of three types of past-year mental health services: school-based services, outpatient therapist or clinic, and overnight hospital stay. Results: Although mental health service use increased from age 12 to age 14 across all service types, it decreased or stabilized from age 15 to 17. School-based services were the most commonly used service and showed the steepest decline in use from age 12 to 17. Conclusions: Although adolescence can be marked by an increasing prevalence of mental disorders, mental health service use declined or leveled off for many service types by age 14 or 15.