OBJECTIVE. We investigated the mental health impact of participation for youth with disabilities (YWD) in the child welfare system who had experienced victimization in the previous year.

METHOD. Nationally representative data were obtained from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Our sample consisted of 247 YWD ages 11–17 yr. Multivariable probit regression analysis and a robust variance estimator were used to test the relationships among disability status, participation, and clinical depression.

RESULTS. The probability of reporting clinical depression was 4 times higher for victimized YWD who reported lower breadth of participation than for victimized YWD who reported higher breadth of participation (6% vs. 26%; p = .03).

CONCLUSION. Occupational therapy aimed at increasing opportunities for engagement in activities may enhance the mental health of the most vulnerable YWD. Participation in meaningful activities can improve both overall health and transition to independence for vulnerable YWD.

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