Recent cases of mass shootings have brought mental illness to the fore, highlighting the need for better health services for adolescents. At present, even when adolescents receive treatment, the providers are rarely mental health specialists.
"It's still the case in this country that people don't take psychiatric conditions as seriously as they should," said E. Jane Costello, a Duke University professor. "This, despite the fact that these conditions are linked to a whole host of other problems."
The study, which surveyed 10,000 teenagers, said that adolescents did not fare well because the care they received varied greatly. Care was given by pediatricians, school counselors or probation officers rather than by people with specialized mental health training.
Costello added that there weren't enough qualified child mental health professionals to address the issue.
"We need to train more child psychiatrists in this country," Costello said. "And those individuals need to be used strategically, as consultants to the school counselors and others who do the lion's share of the work."
More than 70 percent of adolescents diagnosed with ADHD received care 70 percent of the time but those who suffered from phobias or anxiety disorders were very unlikely to receive treatment.