Mental health and disabilities: what we know about racial and ethnic minority children.

The recognition that children and adolescents suffer from mental health problems and disabilities is a recent phenomenon, not arising until the late 19th century. Because of the increasing numbers and importance of ethnic minority children and youth to the vitality of the United States, their mental health and disabilities can no longer be overlooked. Mental health is paramount for fostering social integration, unity, and inclusiveness within and between ethnic groups. Thus the significance of changing demographics and the disparity in mental health indicators make this a key issue for the future. Nursing research in this area has been limited, in spite of the fact that mental health problems and disabilities exert a disproportionate negative effect on racial and ethnic minority children (NIMH, 2001a). The purpose of this chapter is to critique the available nursing research on mental health and disabilities in racial and ethnic minority children, including how such research has been conceptualized, conducted, and interpreted.