Unmet Health and Mental Health Need Among Adolescents: The Roles of Sexual Minority Status and Child–Parent Connectedness


  • This research was supported in part by the Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellowship awarded to Kelly A. Williams by the National Association of Social Workers Foundation in 2008.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kelly A. Williams, Appalachian State University, Department of Social Work, ASU Box 32155, Boone, NC 28608-2155. Electronic mail may be sent to williamska3@appstate.edu.


Using a representative national sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) survey (N = 18,924), this article explores sexual minority status (SMS) and child–parent connectedness in relation to the unmet needs for health or mental health care among adolescents. Through the use of logistic regression models, data were analyzed to determine whether SMS and child–parent connectedness predict unmet health and mental health need. In addition, models tested whether child–parent connectedness, sex or gender, and race or ethnicity interact with SMS to predict unmet need. Results show that both SMS and child–parent connectedness predict unmet health and mental health need. Being a sexual minority youth (SMY) significantly increases the odds of having an unmet need for health or mental health care; female SMY have the highest odds of an unmet mental health need. Child–parent connectedness is a predictor of unmet need regardless of SMS. Youth with lower levels of child–parent connectedness have significantly higher odds of an unmet health or mental health need. Findings call for service providers to address the unmet needs of SMY both in terms of outreach to youth and parents and to communicate the importance of the parental role in helping teens access care.