Chil­dren miss out on help

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - SO­PHIE CHIRG­WIN

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.

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