Editorial: Increasing Access to Mental Health Psychotherapy for Latinx Children: Moving in the Right Direction

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The study reported by Brent et al.1 in this issue of JAACAP is an encouraging approach to potentially reducing mental health disparities. The response of Latino youth to treatment for depression and anxiety in Brent and colleagues’ studies is promising and can help explain why previous studies of Hispanic youths found lower rates of receiving depression care. Brent and colleagues’ results of brief behavioral therapy (BBT) at 32 weeks are mostly in line with results of their original study2: BBT was superior to assisted referral to care (ARC) regarding treatment response and functioning. Like the original study, at week 32, ethnicity continued to moderate the effect of BBT on anxiety (but not depression), due to a lower response rate of Hispanics to assisted referrals to care than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Findings demonstrated that Hispanics had a stronger response to BBT than assisted referral to outpatient care in comparison to non-Hispanic whites; however, at 32 weeks, ethnicity did not moderate BBT impact on functioning, suggesting that the treatment worked the same for non-Hispanic whites as for Hispanics. Such findings suggest that availability of services, identification of need, and easy navigation to mental health services might be some of the reasons for the persistent mental health access disparities among youths of color.

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