MONDAY, Oct. 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) — College students of color have lower mental health-related treatment use relative to white students, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Ph.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues aimed to capture the state of mental health among students of color in a sample of 43,375 undergraduate and graduate students at 60 institutions; the sample included 13,000 students of color. Symptom prevalence, as measured by validated screens such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 for depression, help-seeking behaviors, and related factors were assessed.

The researchers identified modest variation in symptom prevalence across race/ethnicity and larger variation in service utilization. Relative to white students, students of color had lower treatment use, even after the researchers controlled for other variables. The lowest prevalence of treatment was seen for Asian/Asian-American students at only 20 percent among those with apparent mental health conditions. There was also significant variation in attitudes related to mental health treatment, which helped explain the primary findings.

“This study offers important evidence of mental health disparities among college students of color, particularly with regard to treatment,” the authors write. “The challenge for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners will be to develop and disseminate programs that effectively reach students of color, recognizing unique needs within and across racial/ethnic groups.”

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