(HealthDay News) – In recent years, mental health care in office-based practice has increased more rapidly among youth than adults, according to a study published online Nov. 27 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 446,542 outpatient visits to physicians in office-based practice captured in the 1995–2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys. National trends in visits with mental health care indicators were compared for youths (<21 years) and adults (≥21 years).

The researchers found that between 1995–1998 and 2007–2010 the increase in visits resulting in mental disorder diagnoses per 100 population was significantly faster for youths (7.78–15.3 visits) than for adults (23.23–28.48 visits) (P for interaction < 0.001). A significantly faster increase was also seen in psychiatrist visits (from 2.86–5.71 visits among youth vs. 10.22–10.87 visits among adults; P for interaction < 0.001). The increase in psychotropic medication visits was comparable for youths and adults (P for interaction = 0.13). In 2007–2010, 27.4%, 47.9%, and 36.6% of child, adolescent, and adult visits resulting in a mental disorder diagnosis were to a psychiatrist.

“Over the last several years, there has been an expansion in mental health care to children and adolescents in office-based medical practice,” the authors write.

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