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University of South Florida · College of Behavioral & Community Sciences · Mental Health Law & Policy


Key Personnel:
Paul E. Greenbaum, Ph.D.
Svetlana Yampolskaya, Ph.D.
Mario Hernandez, Ph.D.
Richard Briscoe, Ph.D.
Debra Mowery, Ph.D.

Mental Health Service Patterns among Medicaid-Eligible Children: Disparities and Differences in Beliefs and Service Access

Publication Date: 6/1/2008

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Healthy People 2010 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [US DHHS], 2000) documented various health disparities in access to mental health services, quality of mental health care, and mental health service utilization for children in different racial/ethnic groups. The initiative defined health care disparities as differences among US populations according to gender, race or ethnicity, education, income, disability, geographic location, and sexual orientation.

Several studies have shown that there are different patterns of mental health service utilization for youth with different race/ethnicity (i.e. African American, Hispanic, white), as well as differences in clinical diagnosis. Although racial and ethnic disparities in mental health service utilization have been well documented, only a few studies have examined possible reasons for service underutilization. As a result, there is a need for enhanced knowledge about causes, correlates, and determinants of these disparities so that new policies can be developed to reduce them. Therefore, this study was intended to:

  • Determine how race/ethnicity factors affect patterns of mental health prevalence and service utilization among Medicaid-eligible children in Florida
  • Identify race/ethnicity factors associated with parents' beliefs and perceptions of mental health related issues and services
  • Link disparities in mental health status and service utilization with group differences in parental beliefs about mental health and service access.