Professional help seeking for young children with mental health problems

Elizabeth Li'en Oh, Megan Mathers, Harriet Hiscock, Melissa A Wake, Jordana Bayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Up to 22 of school age children have mental health problems. However, less than one quarter at risk of mental health problems access professional services. This study explored help seeking rates for early childhood mental health problems, as measured by the Child Behaviour Checklist, and predictors of parents accessing professional health services. Method: 733 children were recruited during a longitudinal population-based Australian study. Follow up surveys were completed by the child s primary caregiver at age 1.5, 3, and 6 years. Results: Prevalence rates ranged from 13 to 23 over the course of the follow up (1.5 to 6 years). Less than one quarter of children with mental health problems accessed general health services for mental health problems (10-21 ), and still fewer received specialist mental health care (0-16 ). The most consistent predictors of accessing professional help for a child were mothers who had previously sought professional help for personal stress and recognising that their child s behaviour was problematic. Conclusion: Few young children with mental health problems accessed professional health services and even less accessed specialist mental health services. Facilitators to parents seeking help were recognition that their young child is difficult to manage and prior experience seeking help for personal stress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187 - 195
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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