Ethn Health. 2020 Sep 2:1-21. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2020.1814999. Online ahead of print.
Objectives: Emerging adulthood-spanning 18-29 years of age-is associated with the highest risk for onset of certain behavioral health disorders (e.g. major depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, substance use disorders) and high prevalence of many behavioral health disorders. Yet, rates of mental health service use remain low in this age range. Racial/ethnic minorities are particularly impacted by individual, cultural/linguistic, and community-level barriers to mental health care. This study examined community-level factors associated with mental health service use and investigated whether these associations varied by race/ethnicity. Design: This study analyzed individual- and county-level data for emerging adults in the United States (N=3,294) from the nationally representative Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiological Surveys (CPES). Using the Andersen Model of Health Care Utilization, analyses examined predisposing, enabling, and need factors utilized in prior studies with adult samples as well as novel community characteristics hypothesized to impact service use among emerging adults of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. Past-year use of both specialty and any mental health services were assessed, controlling for individual- and community-level variables, and adjusting for presence of past-year mental health disorder, overall health status, and functional impairment. Differences between racial/ethnic minority groups and Non-Latino Whites were tested through a multilevel model incorporating random intercepts logistic regression, with analysis focusing on the interaction between race/ethnicity and community-level supply variables. Results: For past-year use of specialty mental health services, density of hospitals with child wellness programs was linked to service use among Black emerging adults, whereas density of hospitals with linguistic/translation services was linked to service use among Latino emerging adults. Conclusions: This study expands on previous research in behavioral health disparities to examine ways to improve behavioral health services for an emerging adult population with unmet service needs and identifies specific community-level factors that can improve mental health for racial/ethnic minority emerging adults.