Kids miss men­tal help

The West Australian - - NEWS - SO­PHIE CHIRGWIN

The ma­jor­ity of chil­dren with men­tal health dis­or­ders do not get pro­fes­sional help, a study re­veals.

Girls, young chil­dren and fam­i­lies from non-English­s­peak­ing back­grounds were found to be the least likely to ac­cess ser­vices.

The re­search, led by Mur­doch Chil­dren’s Re­search In­sti­tute, will be pub­lished today in the Aus­tralian Jour­nal of Psy­chol­ogy and 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 pro­fes­sional in the 18 months af­ter they were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing a prob­lem.

She said fam­i­lies may have de­layed get­ting help in the hope they would “grow out” of their men­tal dis­or­der but as the sit­u­a­tion wors­ened they sought treat­ment.

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