The use of mental health services by Australian adolescents with mental disorders and suicidality: Findings from a nationwide cross-sectional survey [2020]

Objectives
Mental disorders and suicidality among adolescents have been identified as a major public health concern worldwide; however, they often do not get the necessary attention from parents, school and health professional, and therefore are left untreated. This study aimed to investigate the factors associated with the use of mental health services among Australian adolescents aged 13–17 with mental disorders and/or suicidality.

Methods
Adolescents aged 13–17 (n = 2134) from Young Minds Matter (YMM): the Second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing were included in this study. The YMM is a cross-sectional nationwide survey, in which information was collected from both parents and adolescents (aged 13–17 years). Both bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to identify the factors that have an impact on the use of mental health services (outcome variable) in two subsamples: (1) adolescents with mental disorder and (2) adolescents with suicidality.

Results
Overall, 740 (34.7%) and 168 (7.9%) adolescents reported a mental disorder and/or suicidality, respectively. The incidence of seeking any service was higher among adolescents with suicidality (approximately 50%) compared to those with a mental disorder (about 30%). Girls, older age-group (15–17), adolescents living with disadvantaged families (lower-income, less educated and unemployed parents), those who had multiple mental disorders and history of substance use were most likely to use mental health services regardless of mental disorder and suicidality. Health services and online services were the most popular type of mental health service among adolescents aged 13–17 across two subgroups, while, school and telephone services were less utilized.

Conclusions
Many adolescents with mental disorders and/or suicidality do not use mental health services. The findings indicate differences in factors associated with the use of mental health services among adolescents with mental disorder and suicidality. Further research is needed to address the specific barriers that limit the use of the services.

Md. Irteja Islam, Rasheda Khanam, Enamul Kabir
PLOS ONE, April 10, 2020
DOI
Website