Self-Reported Reasons for Not Receiving Mental Health Treatment in Adults With Serious Suicidal Thoughts

S. Janet Kuramoto-Crawford, PhD, MHS; Beth Han, MD, PhD, MPH; and Richard T. McKeon, PhD, MPH

Published: June 28, 2017

Article Abstract

Objective: This study examined self-reported reasons for not receiving mental health treatment among adults with past-year serious suicidal thoughts and their sociodemographic characteristics associated with these reasons.

Methods: Using the 2008-2013 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, we examined 8,400 respondents aged 18 years or older who had past-year serious thoughts of suicide and did not receive mental health treatment that year. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate the associations between sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported reasons for not receiving mental health treatment among these suicidal adults.

Results: Among adults with serious suicidal thoughts who did not receive mental health treatment in the past year, three-fourths did not feel the need for treatment. Of the one-fourth of those who felt the need for treatment, the main reason for not receiving treatment was financial (58.4%), followed by logistical reasons such as not knowing where to go (36.1%). A greater proportion of suicidal adults than nonsuicidal adults perceived more than 1 barrier to treatment (43.8% vs 34.3%). Among suicidal adults who did not receive mental health treatment that year, the odds of not feeling the need for mental health treatment were higher in men (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.42-1.99), adults aged 50 years or older (AOR = 3.02; 95% CI, 2.02-4.51), racial and ethnic minorities (AORs = 1.59-2.13), publicly insured (AOR = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.14-2.07), and nonmetropolitan residents (AOR = 1.50; 95% CI, 1.20-1.88).

Conclusions: Most suicidal adults did not feel the need for mental health treatment. Of those who felt the need, multiple barriers were identified. A multifaceted approach to address these barriers is needed to promote receipt of mental health treatment among this vulnerable population.

Volume: 78

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