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Depression and mental health service use among 12–17 Year old U.S. adolescents: Associations with current parental and sibling military service

APA Citation:

London, A. S. (2021). Depression and mental health service use among 12-17 year old U.S. adolescents: Associations with current parental and sibling military service. SSM – Population Health, 16, 100920. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2021.100920

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study compared major depressive episode (i.e., MDE) experiences and use of mental health services across military-connected adolescents (i.e., those with a sibling or parent currently serving) and their peers without military connections. A sample of 48,211 adolescents reported on their experiences of MDEs (i.e., within their lifetime and past year, as well as degree of impairment across life domains) and their use of mental health services (i.e., specialty inpatient, specialty outpatient, nonspecialty services). Adolescent siblings of Service members may be at an increased risk for mental health challenges.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study


London, Andrew S.


Objective To examine whether having a parent and/or a sibling currently serving in the military is associated with major depression and use of mental health services among 12–17 year old adolescents in the United States. Method Descriptive and multivariate logistic regression analyses are conducted using pooled data from the 2016–2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Analyses are weighted and standard errors are adjusted for the complex sampling design. Results Adolescents are more likely to have a sibling than a parent currently serving in the military. Having a sibling currently in the military increases the likelihood of having a lifetime and a past-year major depressive episode (MDE), but not a past-year MDE with severe role impairment or use of mental health services. Having a parent in the military is not associated with any measure of MDE, but increases use of specialty outpatient, specialty inpatient/residential, and non-specialty mental health services net of MDE and sociodemographic controls. Conclusion Considerable attention has focused on risk and resilience among the dependent children of current service members. A better understanding of how the current military service experiences of siblings, as well as parents, influences related adolescents’ mental health, mental health care service use, substance use, and health behaviors has the potential to contribute to programs and interventions that can enhance the well-being of youth with intra-generational as well as inter-generational connections to the military. Adolescents who have a sibling currently serving in the military are an at-risk population for MDE and potentially other mental and behavioral health problems.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Associate Dean and Professor of Sociology, Faculty Associate, Aging Studies Institute, Research Affiliate, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, ASL


adolescence, sibling, parental military service

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Research Summary

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