Racism and Poverty are Barriers to the Treatment of Youth Mental Health Concerns

This article was originally published here

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2021 Aug 2:1-13. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2021.1941058. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Traditional studies of treatment moderators have focused largely on psychological factors such as clinical severity. Racial and economic inequity exert large effects on youth mental health, on treatment efficacy, and on the likelihood of receiving treatment altogether. Yet, these factors are studied less often by clinical psychological scientists.

METHOD: We conducted a narrative review of literature on racial and economic inequities and their impact on youth mental health.

RESULTS: First, systemic problems such as racism and poverty increase the risk of developing complex health issues and decrease the likelihood of benefiting from treatment. Second, attitudinal barriers, such as mistrust associated with treatments provided by researchers and government agencies, decrease the likelihood that minoritized groups will engage with or benefit from evidence-based treatments. Third, minoritized and underserved communities are especially unlikely to receive evidence-based treatment.

CONCLUSION: Clinical psychological science has unique insights that can help address systemic inequities that can decrease treatment efficacy for youth mental health treatment. Psychological scientists can help eliminate disparities in accessing evidence-based treatment and help end violent policies in underserved minoritized communities by at the very least (1) building and supporting scalable community-based treatments as well as (2) publicly advocating for an end to violent policies that impose negative social costs.

PMID:34339320 | DOI:10.1080/15374416.2021.1941058