(HealthDay News) — The number of young American adults getting mental health treatment has risen since the rule on dependent coverage went into effect with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, according to research published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

In the new study, researchers used data from an annual government health survey that included questions used to screen for mental health or substance abuse problems. Between 2008–2012, there were over 20,000 18–25-year-olds with potential signs of those conditions. The team found that before the rule took effect, about 31% of those young people had received some type of mental health treatment in the past year. After the rule went into effect, that percentage rose to 33%.

The researchers also noted an increase in the number of young people who said private insurance paid for their mental health care. After the rule, 33% said private insurance paid for their last treatment, vs. 29% in the two years before the rule went into effect. Meanwhile, the reverse was true for 26–35-year-olds. In 2008–2009, over 38% said private insurance covered their last mental health treatment. After 2010, that dropped to 29%.

Based on the new findings, Brendan Saloner, PhD, one of the researchers on the study, said the rule seems to be a “stepping stone” to improving young Americans’ access to mental health care.

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