U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Mental Health Services Utilization by Maltreated Children: Research Findings and Recommendations

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 8 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2003 Pages: 195-203
Marlys M. Staudt
Date Published
August 2003
9 pages
This study reviewed the literature regarding the utilization of mental health services by children who have been maltreated in order to discern variables indicative of use versus nonuse of services.
Children who have been physically or emotionally maltreated are at great risk for developing mental health problems, including emotional and behavioral disorders. Despite their increased need for mental health interventions, barriers exist to the delivery and use of services by children who have suffered maltreatment. In order to determine the correlates of mental health services use and the variables that differentiate service users from nonusers, the author reviewed the research literature surrounding this issue. According to the literature, children in foster care placements had higher rates of mental health services use than comparison groups of Aid to Families With Dependant Children not in foster care placements. Both need and non-need variables were predictive of service use; race was the most consistent non-need predictor of mental health services use. White children were more likely to receive services than Latino or African-American children, even when the White children scored lower for psychiatric symptomatology. Based on the literature review, the author offers implications of the research and recommendations for future research. Implications include the fact that race appears to play a prominent role in the utilization of mental health services, with White children receiving more services and more visits than children of color. Research concerning the underlying mechanisms leading to differential provision and use of services by race/ethnicity is crucial. References