HAMILTON, ONTARIO – One in five children suffering from a mental disorder – with notable increases in depression and anxiety over the past 30 years – yet less than one-third have had contact with a mental healthcare provider, a new study finds.
Results from the 2014 Ontario Child Health Study are actually mirror findings from a similar study conducted in 1983, but this latest version shows that a higher proportion of children and young people with disorders have had contact with health providers and in other settings, usually via schools.
The new study also found that patterns of prevalence among different genders and age groups have changed. Specifically, hyperactivity disorders in boys between four and 1
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Researchers also found significant increase in anxiety and depression in male and female youth. That total jumped from 9% in 1983 to 13% in the 2014 study.
There was also a notable rise – from 7% to 19% – in perceptions of the need for professional help with mental health disorders. However, the researchers wrote it was difficult to determine if this is due to the growing prominence of anti-stigma and mental health awareness over the past 30 years.
In that time, the widespread of all mental disorders increased in communities with population of 1,000 to 100,000, not in large urban areas. There was strong evidence suggesting that poor children have a more likely to have a mental illness if their neighborhood is more violent than others.
The study also revealed that last year more than 8% of young people thought about suicide and 4% reported a suicide attempt.
The study included 10,802 children and youth between the ages of four and 17 of 6,537 families in Ontario. The sample size was much larger than the study conducted in 1983, when 3290 children from 1,869 families participated.
"This is a very robust study that we feel is the situation in Canada," says Michael Boyle, co-principal investigator of the study, in a statement. "That means there are more than a million Canadian children and youth with a mental health problem. This is needed to be addressed. "
Eight papers, each focusing on a different aspect of the 2014 OCHS data, were published simultaneously in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.