Children miss out on help
MOST children suffering from mental health disorders do not get any professional help, a new study has revealed.
Girls, young children and families from non-Englishspeaking backgrounds were the least likely to access services.
The research led by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to be published today in the Australian Journal of Psychology, analysed the mental health of nearly 5000 children from the ongoing Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.
For the study, parents reported on their children’s emotional problems in a “strength and difficulties” questionnaire.
The results were then linked with Medicare Benefits Schedule data to see which families had accessed help.
Lead author Professor Harriet Hiscock said less than one in four children with mental health problems saw a health professional in the 18 months after they were identified as having a problem.
“What I really find concerning is that so few of these young children — eight to 13 years of age they were — who are experiencing clinical levels of mental health problems are getting any help,” she said.
Prof Hiscock said families may delay getting help in the hope they will “grow out” of their mental disorder.
The research found girls were less likely to receive care than boys — 30 per cent of children aged eight to 11 who received support for emotional problems were female despite 50 per cent of those needing help being girls.
It also found 14 per cent of children with emotional problems came from non-Englishspeaking families, but only 2 per cent received help.