Mental Health Treatment Post-TBI in Pediatrics and Minorities

Janelle Forsgren, SN

Mental health problems associated with head injury is a hot topic today. TBI can damage parts of the brain that affect mood, sensory processing, memory, and emotion. A recent research article showed that mental health treatment increased post-TBI among pediatric patients, but most of the post-TBI mental health treatment occurred in children who had mental health diagnosis pre-TBI. This research included 31,272 pediatric patients under 20 years old. 8,577 (27%) of those patients were diagnosed with mental health problems pre-TBI. Post-TBI, the amount of mental health treatment increased among all patients, but 86% of treatment was received by patients who had pre-TBI mental health diagnosis. This study underlines the importance of including mental health services in post-TBI care as needed, especially among the pediatric and young adult population.

Additionally, these researchers found that post-TBI mental health treatment is less common among Hispanic, African-American, and Pacific Islander children, even when they had increased access to services offered. This shows the importance of having culturally-competent providers and getting rid of implicit biases about different races/ethnicities. Some other studies mentioned in this article showed that the outcomes for Hispanic children with head injuries were generally worse than for non-Hispanic white children. Overall, we need to increase the availability of mental health and other post-TBI treatment among minority populations (Jimenez, Quistberg, Valvilala, Jaffe, & Rivara, 2017)

Jimenez, N., Quistberg, A., Valvilala, M. S., Jaffe, K. M., & Rivara, F. P. (2017). Utilization of mental health services after mild pediatric traumatic brain injury. American Academy of Pediatrics, 139(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2462

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