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Mental Health Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Feb 13, 2013 - 1:39:07 PM

Gaps in Mental Health Infrastructure for Youth Identified in Many U.S. Communities

By Staff Editor
Feb 13, 2013 - 1:35:38 PM

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( - ATLANTA--Mental health facilities that provide outpatient specialty services for youth are a critical element of the mental health care infrastructure, especially for youth who are uninsured or publically insured.

In a Viewpoint article in the February 13 issue of JAMA, Janet Cummings, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and management at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, presents data from the 2008 National Survey of Mental Health Treatment Facilities and examines the extent to which gaps exist in the mental health treatment system for youth.

Based on survey data from facilities that provide specialty mental health services, such as psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, freestanding outpatient clinics or partial-care facilities, and multiservice mental health facilities, only 63 percent of U.S. counties have at least one mental health facility that provides outpatient treatment for youth. Less than half of U.S. counties have a mental health facility with special programs for youth with severe emotional disturbance. 

The gaps in infrastructure are even larger in rural communities, where less than half even have one mental health facility that provides outpatient care and only one-third has outpatient facilities with specific programs for youth with severe illness.

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