Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues in children and adolescents, and youth suffering from these disorders often go to their primary care physicians for referrals. Just a small number of them, however, receive mental health care. A study by researchers at San Diego State University published in the April 24 issue of JAMA Psychiatry posits that providing a brief behavioral therapy (BBT) in the pediatric primary care setting can benefit more young people, especially Latino youth.
Researchers in the San Diego and Pittsburgh areas tracked 185 ethnically diverse children and adolescents after 16 weeks of receiving either outpatient referrals or a BBT intervention—comprising between eight and 12 weekly, 45-minute therapy sessions at their doctor’s office. While 28% of youth in the outpatient referral group improved significantly, more than twice as many (57%) in the BBT group showed significant improvement.
The results were even more dramatic for Latino children and adolescents: An impressive 76% of the BBT group showed significant improvement, while only 7% of the outpatient referral group showed significant improvement.