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Fortney JC, Curran GM, Hunt JB, Cheney AM, Lu L, Valenstein M, Eisenberg D. Prevalence of probable mental disorders and help-seeking behaviors among veteran and non-veteran community college students. General hospital psychiatry. 2016 Jan 1; 38:99-104.
OBJECTIVE: Millions of disadvantaged youth and returning veterans are enrolled in community colleges. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of mental disorders and help-seeking behaviors among community college students. METHODS: Veterans (n = 211) and non-veterans (n = 554) were recruited from 11 community colleges and administered screeners for depression (PHQ-9), generalized anxiety (GAD-7), posttraumatic stress disorder (PC-PTSD), non-lethal self-injury, suicide ideation and suicide intent. The survey also asked about the perceived need for, barriers to and utilization of services. Regression analysis was used to compare prevalence between non-veterans and veterans adjusting for non-modifiable factors (age, gender and race/ethnicity). RESULTS: A large proportion of student veterans and non-veterans screened positive and unadjusted bivariate comparisons indicated that student veterans had a significantly higher prevalence of positive depression screens (33.1% versus 19.5%, P < .01), positive PTSD screens (25.7% versus 12.6%, P < .01) and suicide ideation (19.2% versus 10.6%, P = .01). Adjusting for age, gender and race/ethnicity, veterans were significantly more likely than non-veterans to screen positive for depression (OR = 2.10, P = .01) and suicide ideation (OR = 2.31, P = .03). Student veterans had significantly higher odds of perceiving a need for treatment than non-veterans (OR = 1.93, P = .02) but were more likely to perceive stigma (beta = 0.28, P = .02). Despite greater need among veterans, there were no significant differences between veterans and non-veterans in use of psychotropic medications, although veterans were more likely to receive psychotherapy (OR = 2.35, P = .046). CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight the substantial gap between the prevalence of probable mental health disorders and treatment seeking among community college students. Interventions are needed to link community college students to services, especially for student veterans.