The Epidemiology of Mental Disorders in African American Children

One in five children and adolescents experience significant symptoms of emotional distress and approximately 10 % of youth suffer from emotional disorders, which impair their personal, school, and family lives. African American youth may experience even higher rates of some psychiatric distress due to a number of environmental challenges they face that place them at risk, including a lack of access to mental health services.

Research in the area of health disparities has increased in recent years. Various sources cite widespread differences between whites and people of color in a variety of healthcare treatment areas including cardiovascular disease, cancer, maternal and child health, and mental health.1 In 2001, US Surgeon General David Satcher commissioned a report supplement to illuminate racial mental health disparities, provide empirical support to document the differences, and offer strategies for use in reducing the disparities.2 In accordance with a number of the suggestions from the Surgeon General’s report, the purpose of this article is to present a paradigm that may assist in addressing health disparities in child and adolescent psychiatric research and clinical care.

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