According to a recent study conducted in Canada, one in five children and youth suffer from a mental disorder, but less than one-third have had contact with a mental health care provider.
Although those overall results echo a similar study from 1983, the new study found a much larger proportion of children and youth with a disorder had contact with other health providers and in other settings, most often through schools.
The new study found that the patterns of prevalence among different sexes and age groups have changed.
Hyperactivity disorder in boys four to 11 years old jumped dramatically from nine to 16 percent, but there has been a substantial drop in disruptive behaviour among males 12 to 16 years old from 10 to 3 per cent. There has been a steep increase in anxiety and depression among both male and female youth from 9 to 13 per cent.
In 30 years, the prevalence of any disorder increased in communities with a population of 1,000 to 100,000, rather than large urban areas, and there is strong evidence that poor children are more likely to have a disorder if their neighbourhood is one where violence is more common.
The study also found that in the past year more than eight per cent of youth thought about suicide, and 4 per cent reported a suicide attempt.
"This is a very robust study we feel represents the situation in Canada. That means there are more than a million Canadian children and youth with a mental health problem. This needs to be addressed," said Michael Boyle, lead investigator of the study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
"This study underscores the continued need for effective prevention and intervention programs," Kathy Georgiades, Co-principal investigator added.
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