Erin P. O. Donnell, Leticia Ryan, Thuy Ngo, Lisa Yanek
Purpose: Children and adolescents with low Socioeconomic Status (SES) have higher rates of mental health problems and unmet mental health needs. Often low-income areas where children of low SES may reside have shortages of mental health resources. This study describes community characteristics of high-risk mental health patients who sought emergency care for an acute psychiatric crisis.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study uses community-level census data to evaluate specific socioeconomic characteristics associated with the neighborhoods where mental health patients resided at the time of presentation to an urban pediatric emergency department.
Results: Most patients resided in Baltimore city and of these patients, the mean household income level and measures for educational status were considerably lower than state averages. Levels of violent crime were also higher for the communities where the study patients resided.
Conclusion: Children living in communities stricken by various social inequities may face a range of barriers that affect their mental health.