Barriers to Pediatric Mental Healthcare Access: Qualitative Insights from Caregivers

Drissa M. Toure, Gaurav Kumar, Cady Walker, Jack E. Turman, Dejun Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximates that 1 in 5 children experience a mental or behavioral health disorder. Pediatric mental healthcare service access cannot be improved without strong coordination between educational settings, social service providers for children, and adequate policy support. Addressing this critical child development issue is dependent on us understanding the barriers to mental healthcare access faced by pediatric populations. This qualitative study explored barriers to pediatric mental healthcare access based on in-depth interviews with 53 key informants representing childcare settings, K-12 schools, foster care settings, and evidence-based home visitation programs. Semi-structured interviews with participants identified barrier-related themes and subthemes. The themes reflect a series of hurdles related to pediatric mental healthcare access including, lack of preparedness/training for pediatric mental health screening and management, limited resources, lack of policy support, transportation, and family issues that have hindered mental health support for children. The findings highlight the compounding barriers to pediatric mental healthcare services and point to opportunities for improving pediatric mental health using a holistic approach. Future research should focus on designing and implementing community and organization-based strategies to break down these barriers for families to optimize their children’s mental health and wellness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-495
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Barriers
  • caregivers
  • educators
  • mental healthcare
  • pediatric
  • social services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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