Prevalence of Mental Disorder and Service Use by Immigrant Generation and Race/Ethnicity Among U.S. Adolescents

Katholiki Georgiades, Diana Paksarian, Kara Rudolph, Kathleen R. Merikangas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine differences in lifetime prevalence of mental disorder and service use among U.S. adolescents by both immigrant generation and race/ethnicity. Method: A total of 6,250 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement were assessed for lifetime prevalence of mood and/or anxiety disorders, behavior disorders, and mental health service use. Twelve groups defined by self-identified race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, Asian) and immigrant generation (first, second, third, or more) were compared. Results: Differences in prevalence of lifetime mental disorder were most apparent when immigrant generation and race/ethnicity were considered jointly. Compared to third+generation non-Hispanic white adolescents, the odds of mood/anxiety disorder were increased among second-generation Asian (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.51; 95% CI = 1.22−5.17) and third+generation Hispanic (AOR = 1.28; 95% CI = 1.00−1.63) but reduced among first-generation Asian (AOR = 0.27; 95% CI = 0.10−0.71) and second-generation non-Hispanic white adolescents (AOR = 0.50; 95% CI = 0.30−0.81). The odds of behavior disorder were lower among first-generation Asian (AOR = 0.26; 95% CI = 0.09−0.71) and all generations of non-Hispanic black adolescents (AOR range 0.43−0.55). Adjusting for lifetime disorder, first-generation Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adolescents and all generations of non-Hispanic black adolescents were less likely to receive mental health services (AOR range 0.24−0.55). Conclusions: Variation in risk of disorder by immigrant generation and race/ethnicity underscores the importance of considering social, economic, and cultural influences in etiologic and treatment studies of adolescent psychopathology. Lower rates of service use, particularly among first-generation immigrant adolescents, highlight the need to identify and address barriers to recognition and treatment of mental disorders among adolescents from immigrant and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-287.e2
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ethnicity
  • immigration
  • mental disorder
  • mental health disparities
  • mental health services
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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