New Study Finds Black Students Less Likely to Receive Mental Health Care

Black student mental health
A new study has made a startling discovery- black students and young adults are much less likely to receive mental health treatment than their white counterparts.

The findings have sparked new concerns of racism in health care, claiming that black and Hispanic children and young adults are half as likely to receive mental health treatment. According to, a press release issued by Physicians for a National Health Program states, “Whites received about three times more outpatient mental health services than blacks and Hispanics in this age group. The substance abuse counseling rate for black young adults was strikingly low, about one-seventh that for whites.”

Read below for an abstract description of the study:

Psychiatric and behavior problems are common among children and young adults, and many go without care or only receive treatment in carceral settings. We examined racial and ethnic disparities in children’s and young adults’ receipt of mental health and substance abuse care using nationally representative data from the 2006–2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. Blacks’ and Hispanics’ visit rates (and per capita expenditures) were about half those of non-Hispanic whites for all types and definitions of outpatient mental health services. Disparities were generally larger for young adults than for children. Black and white children had similar psychiatric inpatient and emergency department utilization rates, while Hispanic children had lower hospitalization rates. Multivariate control for mental health impairment, demographics, and insurance status did not attenuate racial/ethnic disparities in outpatient care. We conclude that psychiatric and behavioral problems among minority youth often result in school punishment or incarceration, but rarely mental health care.

The study was led by Dr. Lyndonna Marrast, who notes that “It has become increasingly clear that minorities are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and underrepresented in the receipt of mental health care. We need to look closely at how equitably, our health care institutions are serving all segments of society.”