Mental health difficulties across childhood and mental health service use: findings from a longitudinal population-based study

Mulraney, Melissa, Hiscock, Harriet, Sciberras, Emma, Coghill, David and Sawyer, Michael 2020, Mental health difficulties across childhood and mental health service use: findings from a longitudinal population-based study, British journal of psychiatry, vol. 217, no. 1, pp. 364-369, doi: 10.1192/bjp.2019.32.

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Title Mental health difficulties across childhood and mental health service use: findings from a longitudinal population-based study
Author(s) Mulraney, Melissa
Hiscock, Harriet
Sciberras, EmmaORCID iD for Sciberras, Emma
Coghill, David
Sawyer, Michael
Journal name British journal of psychiatry
Volume number 217
Issue number 1
Start page 364
End page 369
Total pages 6
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Place of publication Cambridge, Eng.
Publication date 2020-07
ISSN 0007-1250
Keyword(s) Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Health service use
mental health
Summary Background Over the past 20 years the prevalence of child and adolescent mental disorders in high-income countries has not changed despite increased investment in mental health services. Insufficient contact with mental health services may be a contributing factor; however, it is not known what proportion of children have sufficient contact with health professionals to allow delivery of treatment meeting minimal clinical practice guidelines, or how long children experience symptoms prior to receiving treatment. Aims To investigate the level of mental healthcare received by Australian children from age 4 years to 14 years. Method Trajectories of mental health symptoms were mapped using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Health professional attendances and psychotropic medications dispensed were identified from linked national Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme records. Results Four trajectories of mental health symptoms were identified (low, high-decreasing, moderate-increasing and high-increasing). Most children with mental health symptoms had few MBS mental health attendances, and only a minority received care meeting study criteria for minimally adequate treatment. Children in the high-increasing and moderate-increasing trajectories were more likely to access care, yet there was no evidence of improvement in symptoms. Conclusions It is important that children and adolescents with mental health problems receive treatment that meets minimal practice guidelines. Further research is needed to identify the quality of care currently provided to children with mental health difficulties and how clinicians can be best funded and supported to provide care meeting minimal practice guidelines. Declaration of interests None.
Language eng
DOI 10.1192/bjp.2019.32
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 11 Medical and Health Sciences
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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