Mental health treatment, diagnosis varies by race

Mental health treatment and diagnoses vary significantly by race and ethnicity, according to a new study published in Psychiatric Services. Researchers analyzed electronic health record data for 7.5 million patients at 11 healthcare systems, 1.17 million of whom received a mental health diagnosis in 2011, and found rates of diagnosis were significantly higher for non-Hispanic white patients compared to most other racial or ethnic groups. The study also found that patients of all races and ethnicities were doubly likely to receive medication for mental health issues as opposed to formal therapy. "While further studies are needed to determine the cause for differences in diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions based on racial or ethnic background, this study is important in showcasing that disparities exist and provides useful information for healthcare professionals who treat patients with mental health conditions," said lead author Karen J. Coleman, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Study announcement