Date of Award

Winter 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Karen T Van Gundy

Second Advisor

Heather A Turner

Third Advisor

Ryan A Gibson


Awareness of adolescent mental health issues has been rising since the start of the twenty-first century. While certain barriers to adolescent mental health treatment have been alleviated due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), racial barriers to treatment still exist. Many studies on racial and gendered disparities consider barriers to mental health treatment, such as stigma. Few examine the role of parents and parental bonds with children as key variables in understanding disparities in treatment. This thesis utilizes data from the 2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a cross-sectional nationally representative survey, for the purpose of examining the extent to which parental bonds mediate or moderate the effects of race and/or gender on adolescent service utilization. Although no mediating effects were observed, moderating effects were found among four of six distinct treatment types. Parental bonds were observed to be a moderator of the effect of race on adolescent utilization of school-based inpatient care and the utilization of multiple mental health services. Parental bonds also were shown to moderate the effect of sex in relation to the utilization of primary care mental health services and the use of multiple mental health services. Such findings are important in understanding treatment-seeking behavior and the best use of public resources in providing adequate service provision within different mental health service contexts. Adequate service provision is necessary to meet adolescent mental health needs and reduce racial and gendered mental health disparities. Future research should examine parents' thought processes when suggesting or helping their adolescents obtain formal mental health treatment resources.