Disparities in Behavioral Health – An Analysis of a recent SAMHSA Report

August 31, 2015

To mark National Minority Health month in July, SAMHSA released a report on the disparities of behavioral health between ethnic groups in the United States. Using statistics from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an analysis was conducted to see the influence of various factors including ethnicity, income levels, location and health insurance status.

Some interesting statistics revealed by this report include:

  • 2% of female and 5.3% of male adolescents (from the ages of 12-17) had a major depressive episode in the prior year. Of those who had an MDE, 70% of male adolescents and almost 60% of female adolescents did not receive appropriate care
  • Approximately 56% of adolescents suffering from a past-year major depressive episode where white
  • Adults who reported Serious Mental Illness without health insurance were more likely not to receive appropriate care than those with insurance. Only about 50.6% of those without insurance versus 73.5% of those with insurance, received care
  • Of individuals aged 12 or older with alcohol dependence or abuse, only 6.3% received appropriate treatment
  • Of individuals aged 12 or older with illicit drug abuse or dependence, only 13.4% received appropriate treatment

Our Take: It is well known that many factors affect how substance abusers receive care. Whether due to differences in ethnicity, income level, geographical location, insurance status or age, there are populations within every category that are underrepresented in treatment. Interestingly, while disparities exist, people of all ethnicities, income levels and ages are affected by the disease of addiction in a significant way.

However, even in today’s 24-hour news cycle, with levels of awareness that we have never seen before, the number of people receiving appropriate care for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is staggeringly low. Access to care for these disorders remains woeful and continues to be a major problem in today’s society.

To read the entire study including statistics please visit SAMHSA’s website at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/Health_Equity_National_BHB/Health_Equity_National_BHB.pdf

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