The wellbeing of children is important to all Australians, yet there are troubling rates of mental health difficulties among children:
- Nearly half of all mental health problems begin before the age of 14.
- Certain risk factors present before 6 months of age can predict increasing levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms in the first 5 years of a child’s life.
It is estimated that 1 in 7 primary school-age children has a mental health difficulty, like anxiety, depression and behaviour problems, but only 1 in 4 gets the help they need.
There is a solid body of evidence that indicates helping children develop social and emotional skills, including resilience, leads to better mental health. In addition, if children experiencing mental health difficulties are recognised early and supported, they will be less likely to have poor mental health outcomes as adults.
- Kessler, R., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K., & Walters, E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593 – 602.
- Côté, S.M., Boivin, M., Liu, X., Nagin, D.S., Zoccolillo, M., Tremblay, R.E. (2009). Depression and anxiety symptoms: Onset, developmental course and risk factors during early childhood. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(10),1201-1208.
- Sawyer, M. G., Arney, F. M., Baghurst, P. A., Clark, J. J., Graetz, B. W., Kosky, R. J., et al. (2001). The mental health of young people in Australia: Key findings from the child and adolescent component of the national survey of mental health and well-being. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 35, 806-814.