The Accessibility of Mental Health Resources for Foster Care Youth

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Ohio State University

Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


Children in the foster care system are far more susceptible to developing mental disorders over the course of their lives than those who do not spend time in foster care. This is due to the amount of complex trauma that the majority of children that are currently in or were previously in the foster care system have endured Furthermore, if a child is not being treated for their mental health disorder, they will be more prone to self-medicate with either drug use, violence or other harmful outlets. This could lead to ongoing problems when youth age out of the system. A young adult that is dealing with an undiagnosed mental health disorder will have an especially difficult time learning to live on their own. Despite this, research has shown that children and youth with a history of foster care involvement are not receiving mental health treatment services. The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression and anxiety, and barriers to accessing mental health services among individuals with a history (current or previous) of foster care involvement. The was a cross sectional study using an online survey. Eligible individuals had to be over the age of 18 years old and with a history of foster care involvement (current or previous). All of the participants were from Ohio. Participants were asked to report on their own history within the foster care system. The participants also self-reported diagnoses for PTSD, anxiety, and depression. If the participant indicated a diagnosis, they were then asked to describe their experiences with accessing mental health services while in foster care, and if they were currently receiving treatment. A total of 15 participants completed the survey and their responses were analyzed. Findings indicate that while participants reported diagnoses for the three disorders (PTSD, anxiety, depression) the majority did not receive treatment. Furthermore, the participants were reported not being connected with quality health care and with no ongoing treatment following the initial diagnosis. Overall, individuals with a history of foster care are at a greater risk for developing mental health disorders but are not being connected with effective and sustainable resources while they are in the foster care system. These findings point to the need for establishing a system for foster care youth to be connected to resources for mental health when they are aging out of foster care.



Mental Health, Foster Care