Infant and child mental health

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Infant and child mental health in the AIFS library catalogue

Health service utilisation and unmet healthcare needs of Australian children from immigrant families : a population-based cohort study.

Guo S, Liu M, Chong S, Zendarski N, Molloy C, Quach J, Perlen S, Nguyen M, O'Connor E, Riggs E and O'Connor M
Health and Social Care in the Community 23 Jun 2020: Advance online publication
This article adds to what is known about the health service use of immigrant families in Australia and whether there are unmet healthcare needs. It looks at the use of health services by 10-11 year old children from immigrant and non-immigrant families, using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The study found that children from non-immigrant families and children from English-speaking immigrant families had similar patterns of service use and unmet healthcare needs, but that children from non-English-speaking immigrant families used fewer health services and had unmet health needs, particularly for paediatric specialist services.

Barriers to mental health care for Australian children and adolescents in 1998 and 2013-2014.

Schnyder N, Sawyer M, Lawrence D, Panczak R, Burgess P and Harris M
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 8 May 2020: Advance online publication
This article adds to what is known about whether children and adolescents are receiving the mental health care they need, by comparing whether the barriers to care have changed in the last 15 years. It compares findings from two large national surveys - one from 1998, one from 2013-2014 - to see if participants' top 3 barriers to accessing care have changed. The surveys were completed by adolescents and by parents on behalf of younger children. The findings indicate that despite considerable investment in mental health promotion and treatment, the main perceived barriers to care have remained largely the same over time. Parents' indicated that the main barriers were preferring to rely on themselves, being uncertain of where they could get help, and costs of mental health care, and adolescents indicated that their reasons for non-use were preferring to rely on themselves and concern about what other people may think.

Prevalence estimates of mental health problems in children and adolescents with intellectual disability : a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Buckley N, Glasson E, Chen W, Epstein A, Leonard H, Skoss R, Jacoby P, Blackmore A, Srinivasjois R, Bourke J, Sanders R and Downs J
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 30 May 2020: Advance online publication
Research varies on the prevalence of mental health problems among children and adolescents with intellectual disability. To help address this gap, this article presents the findings systematic review on estimates of mental health disorders in children and young people aged 6-21 years old with intellectual disability in the general population. The findings indicate that these children and young people experience higher rates of mental health problems compared to the general population, most commonly attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder and anxiety disorders. Limitations in the data are also discussed.

Supporting parents of 4-8-year-old children with mild to moderate anxiety: practice guide

Murphy C and Robinson E
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2020.
This is one of two resources written to help generalist services support parents to address mild to moderate anxiety in childhood. This paper focus on the 4-8 age group. Sections include: what is anxiety?, what is happening for children aged 4-8 years?, what are the signs of anxiety?, what keeps anxiety going?, how can practitioners support a parent caring for a child with anxiety?, when and how can practitioners make effective referrals to a mental health service?, and how can parents support their child experiencing anxiety? Resources for parents have also been prepared. It's common for young children to experience a range of worries as they develop, but when these worries persist over time and impact on children's abilities to do activities common for their age, they may be experiencing anxiety.

The income gradient and child mental health in Australia : does it vary by assessors?

Khanam R, Nghiem S and Rahman M
European Journal of Health Economics v. 21 no. 1 Feb 2020 19-36
This article investigates whether there is an association between a child's mental health and their family's income. There is a growing body of research on the association between family income and children's health, however, mental health can be hard to assess as perceptions vary between people. To help address this, this article uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), which includes the views of three different groups: the child, their parent, and their teacher. Data was taken for children aged 10-15 years of age, and focused on hyperactivity, emotional symptoms, and conduct problems. The study found that the association varied depending on who was doing the assessing. Mental health problems were rated as more severe by children themselves rather than parents or teachers, and parents tended to report more severe behaviour problems and children rated themselves more negatively for internalising behaviours. Family income was found to have protective effects on children's mental health, and the differences between assessors reduced as family income increased. The findings suggest that parents shouldn't be the only source when assessing children's mental health.

Prejudice-motivated bullying and its impact on child mental health and wellbeing

Prosser S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2020.
Written for general practitioners, this paper highlights the issue of prejudice-based bullying for children - such as racism or homophobia - where a child is harassed, discriminated against or victimised due to their - or their parent's - perceived attributes. The paper explains the nature and characteristics of this type of bullying and looks into how general practitioners can help affected children and families. The most important outcome of any conversation with a child about this type of bullying is that they understand that the actual problem or issue lies with the person doing the bullying, and not with them or any aspect of their identity.

Growing Up Digital Australia: Phase 1 technical report

Graham A and Sahlberg P
Sydney : Gonski Institute for Education, 2020.
The Growing Up Digital in Australia project aims to explore the learning and health impacts of technology on children and young people. This report presents findings from the first phase of the project: a survey of 1,876 teachers, principals and school support staff from preschool to Year 12 schools from late 2019. Participants were asked to compare the situations in their schools today to what they were 3-5 years ago, regarding the links between digital media usage and areas such as exercise, homework, identity formation, distraction, cognition, learning, nutrition, and sleep quality and quantity, as well as equity of access and impact, school policies, and the positive aspects of technology use by both students and teachers. The findings indicate that classrooms have become emotionally, psychologically and behaviourally more complex places for both teachers and students, and that technology is both a benefit and and opportunity and a growing distraction for student learning. The publisher website notes that this report can help serve as a baseline for assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic - and its education policy responses - on students and learning.

How does preteen bullying affect young people's mental health?

Devine B
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2020.
This paper highlights key findings from a recent study into the association between bullying experiences in the preteen years and a range of negative mental health outcomes for preteens and adolescents. It presents information from a rapid evidence assessment conducted by the Parenting Research Centre, along with a bibliography. The study found that bullying victimisation in the preteen years is associated with a wide range of negative mental health outcomes in childhood and adolescence, including psychotic experiences, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and eating disorders. Severe, frequent, and bullying in multiple places is associated with worse outcomes.

Repeated presentation of children and adolescents to the emergency department following self-harm : a retrospective audit of hospital data.

Summers P, O'Loughlin R, O'Donnell S, Borschmann R, Carlin J and Hiscock H
Emergency Medicine Australasia v. 32 no. 2 Apr 2020: 320-326
This article adds to what is known about the outcomes and risk factors for children and young people who self-harm. It examines re-presentation rates at a children's hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, analysing all cases of self harm for children aged from 0-18 years of age, from 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2018. The analysis found almost one in four patients re-presented with self-harm within 1 year: 15% of patients re-represented within 3 months, 20% within 6 months, and 23% within 12 months. No patient or family factor was strongly associated with likelihood of re-presentation, but some association was seen with being flagged by a hospital clinician as vulnerable, a history of depression or substance abuse, self-cutting, and had an aggressive behaviour response team called during the visit. Another risk factor was being female, with 82% of all presentations made by girls.

Pets are associated with fewer peer problems and emotional symptoms, and better prosocial behavior : findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

Christian H, Mitrou F, Cunneen R and Zubrick S
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 21 Feb 2020: Advance online publication
This article investigates whether there is an association between pet ownership and children's social-emotional development over time. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australia Children (LSAC), it compared children's emotional symptoms, problems with peers, prosocial behaviour at age 5 and at age 7, as well as whether the child owned a pet. The study found that owning a pet was associated with with fewer social-emotional problems, with children with a pet dog in particular having reduced odds of having any of these difficulties. Pet ownership was also associated with positive social functioning, especially in children without siblings. By the age of 7, 75% of these children lived with a pet, with ownership rates highest in families with only one child.

Health service use among children at risk of social-emotional problems : opportunities for early intervention

Warren D, Quinn B and Daraganova G
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2020
This paper summarises key findings from a research report on whether children with mental health problems are consulting health professionals. The report used linked data from Medicare and the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to examine patterns of health care service use across childhood, the characteristics of children and their families who access various health care services, and whether children at higher risk of developing social-emotional and conduct problems are accessing health care services at greater rates than other children. The study found that these at risk children were consulting health services at greater rates, but there were differences by age, gender, socioeconomic status, location, and language spoken at home.

Use of health services among children at risk of social-emotional problems: opportunities for early intervention : working paper

Warren D, Quinn B and Daraganova G
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020.
Research has found that a significant number of children with mental health problems have not consulted a mental health professional. This paper investigates this trend in more detail, by linking service use data from Medicare with data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). It examines patterns of health care service use across childhood, the characteristics of children and their families who access various health care services, and whether children at higher risk of developing social-emotional and conduct problems access health care services at greater rates than other children. It also examines use of family and parent services such as parent education, helplines, and relationship counselling. The study found that children's use of medical services varied by age, and that general practitioners were the most commonly consulted service. It also found that children at increased risk of social-emotional problems and psychosocial adjustment issues had higher rates of contact with various service types, including psychiatric and behavioural therapy services and other medical professionals, as well as hospital emergency and outpatient services, than their peers. Nonetheless, substantial proportions of these children were not accessing specialist mental health services, and many parents reported difficulties in accessing these services.

Speaking Out Survey 2019: the views of WA children and young people on their wellbeing - a summary report

Western Australia. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Subiaco, WA : Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, 2020.
This report shares the views of children and young people on what it's like to grow up in Western Australia. It presents preliminary results from the inaugural Speaking Out Survey, which involved 4,912 students from Grade 4 to Year 12 from across the state. Participants were asked about family and friends, community, physical and mental health, healthy behaviour and drug use, safety, bullying and abuse, gaming and social media, living standards, connection to culture and community, sport and leisure, education and wellbeing. Overall, most students report they are physically and mentally healthy, their material needs are covered, and they like school. However, some groups are not faring as well. Results for Aboriginal participants and participants from rural and regional areas are also discussed. Many children and young people also say their relationships with family, friends and teachers are positive overall and that they feel like they belong in their community. The methodology involved weighting and over-sampling to provide a better picture of the total student population and Aboriginal students, and now that this proof of concept has been tested, the Commissioner hopes to conduct the survey every three years.

The mental health of refugee children in Australia

Guy S and Terhaag S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2020.
This podcast explores how children from refugee backgrounds are faring in terms of their social and emotional wellbeing. It highlights data from the 'Building a New Life in Australia' longitudinal study of humanitarian migrants on social and emotional wellbeing in refugee children, experience of trauma in refugee families, and the impact of parent experiences on children's mental health. It concludes with the implications for practitioners. Though most people would assume that these children would be struggling and having a hard time, the findings from this study show that most of the children are doing relatively well after a couple of years.

What is child-focused supervision in adult-focused services and how does it work?

Rycroft P and Moss D
26 February 2020
This webinar will discuss child-focused supervision practices and initiatives to support child-focused practice in adult services. Practitioners face a number of challenges when talking with parents about how their children's mental health and wellbeing may be affected by the issues they are seeking or need support for. These challenges may mean that child-focused conversations are not always evident in practice, despite clear intentions, and that possible concerns about children's wellbeing are not responded to. Staff need to be supported by robust organisational processes and practices that plan, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of child-focused practice. Supportive, accountable and reflective supervision processes are an essential, but sometimes elusive, element in supporting staff to develop child-focused competencies. This webinar will explore child-focused supervision practices, as well as presenting other initiatives used by managers, supervisors and practitioners in creating an organisational context to support child-focused practice in adult services.

Learning outcomes of children with teacher-identified emerging health and developmental needs.

O'Connor M, Chong S, Quach J and Goldfeld S
Child : Care, Health and Development v. 46 no. 2 Mar 2020: 223-231
This article looks into whether children's health and development at the start of school is associated with their reading and numeracy by Grade 3. It compares teachers' concerns about children at school entry, as recorded in the Australian Early Development Census, with primary students' scores in the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy, for 42,619 children in Victoria. It also considered socio-demographic factors that could impact on both health and learning. The study found that 1 in 5 children start school with health or emotional difficulties that challenge their learning, and that, on average, these children had poorer outcomes in reading and numeracy than their peers. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds were even more at risk.

Identifying social, emotional and behavioural difficulties in the early childhood years

Tully L
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2020.
Written for practitioners, this paper provides an overview of the social, emotional and behavioural difficulties that can emerge in the early childhood years, from birth to age 3. It highlights the challenges of differentiating between normal concerns and clinical issues, and offers practical advice on talking to parents, screening, and providing advice. It can be difficult to differentiate social, emotional and behavioural difficulties as there are no clear criteria for what is considered 'normal' development in the early childhood years. Also, many parents do not express concern or seek help, assuming any problems in this period are transient or due to concerns about stigma. This paper is intended for practitioners working in the health, community services and early childhood, education and care sectors, who are all well-placed to identify difficulties early in a child's life.

Costs for physical and mental health hospitalizations in the first 13 years of life among children engaged with Child Protection Services.

Neil A, Islam F, Kariuki M, Laurens K, Katz I, Harris F, Carr V and Green M
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 99 Jan 2020: 104280
This article adds to what is known about the financial and health impacts of child maltreatment. It calculates the hospital admission costs of children in New South Wales, comparing children known or not known to child protection services. Linked administrative data is taken from the New South Wales Child Development Study, for 79,285 children from birth to 13 years of age. The findings indicate that children in contact with child protection services have higher rates of hospitalisations, and thus associated costs - children in out of home care in particular. Physical and mental health conditions are also compared.

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

Mulraney M, Hiscock H, Sciberras E, Coghill D and Sawyer M
British Journal of Psychiatry v. 217 no. 1 Jul 2020: 364-369
This article investigates whether children are making sufficient use of health services to address their mental health concerns. The article examines at trajectories of mental health problems across a ten year period in childhood and mental health service and medication use. Data is taken from medical benefit schemes linked to longitudinal data on children from 4 to 14 years of age, from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), with reference to the minimum number of appointments a child would need to attend to have received care consistent with clinical guidelines. The analysis identified four distinct patterns of children's mental health problems, and finds that the majority of children with persisting and worsening mental health problems are not receiving adequate care.

Kids Helpline insights 2018: insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2019.
This magazine-style publication highlights the work of Kids Helpline, introduces some new initiatives, and summarises findings from an analysis of 2018 data. Kids Helpline answered 147,351 contacts in 2018, most commonly about mental health, suicide, family relationships, or child abuse. A more detailed report is also available.

Kids Helpline insights 2018: national statistical overview - insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2019.
Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years. It provides support 24 hours a day, with access by phone, email, or the website, as well as the Kids Helpline @ School program. This report provides insights into the clients of the service and the issues that concern them. It presents 2018 data on service demand, client characteristics, client needs and concerns, client communication preferences, referral to specialist services, and client satisfaction and impact. The report also explains the scope and focus of Kids Helpline's work and its role in supporting and protecting young Australians, both at an individual and systemic level. Of the 147,351 contacts responded to by the service in 2018, 143,481 were from children and young people, with 77% of them girls and young women. Half of contacts were answered by phone, over a third by webchat, and 13% by email. A summary report is also available.

Social wellbeing in primary schools

Cahill H, Shlezinger K, Dadvand B, Farrelly A, Romei K and Kern P
Parkville, Vic. : Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne, 2019.
The report presents information on the social wellbeing of primary school students in Victoria, including the impact of a social and emotional learning program - the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships program - on their wellbeing and peer relationships. 877 students from grades 4-6 completed a survey on their social wellbeing and peer relations, and focus groups were held with program participants - 179 students in 2017 and 84 students in 2018. Topics include: psychological wellbeing, sense of belonging at school, connectedness to peers, loneliness, bullying, inclusion, body image, sexism and gender relations, and the impact of the program on capacity to manage emotions and to resolve conflicts, positive relationships between genders, and peer support and help-seeking skills. Overall, the students reported relatively high levels of wellbeing, and most students were engaged with their learning and felt connected to their schools, teachers and peers. Boys were more likely than girls to experience and perpetrate violence, and girls were more likely to report being lonely and experience exclusion and complexity in resolving friendship problems. This project is part of a larger 3-year study with 40 primary and secondary schools.

Social determinants of psychological wellness for children and adolescents in rural NSW.

Peters I, Handley T, Oakley K, Lutkin S and Perkins D
BMC Public Health v. 19 2 Dec 2019: Article 1616
This article investigates the mental health of children and adolescents living in rural and remote areas of New South Wales, and what personal, family, community and locational factors are associated with mental wellness. It draws on data from the Australian Rural Mental Health Study, for 539 children aged 4 and 17 years old in New South Wales, with comparisons to a community study of children and adolescents from Victoria. The study found that young people from rural and remote areas have poorer mental wellness, in particular males, younger children, and families with low income, unemployment, or low sense of community. The findings highlight the risk of personal and family factors, rather than community disadvantage or level of rurality.

The development and evaluation of an education program for service providers about culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) client victims/survivors of child sexual abuse: technical report 1 - full report

Sawrikar P
Qld. : No More Silence, 2019.
This report is from a project that takes a whole-of-community approaching to addressing child sexual abuse in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Australia. This report provides information on Stage 1 of the project, which involved the development and evaluation of a program to educate mental health professionals about CALD victims of child sexual abuse and their needs in the clinical setting. The program recruited general practitioners, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, and psychologists in four states. This report discusses the aims and development of the program and its impact after 6 months on service provider knowledge and practices. Outcomes include knowledge of cross-cultural differences and issues in child sexual abuse in CALD communities, cultural self-efficacy, cultural self-awareness, responsibility for professional power, and organisational support for staff.

Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health: report of the Special Rapporteur.

Puras D
New York : United Nations Human Rights Council, 2019.
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine a specific human rights theme. This report presents the conclusions and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health - focusing on mental health across the life course. The Special Rapporteur elaborates on the critical role of the social and underlying determinants of health in advancing the realization of the right to mental health, outlines important opportunities and challenges associated with a human rights-based approach to actions on the determinants needed for mental health promotion, and argues that good mental health and well-being cannot be defined by the absence of a mental health condition, but must be defined instead by the social, psychosocial, political, economic and physical environment that enables individuals and populations to live a life of dignity, with full enjoyment of their rights and in the equitable pursuit of their potential.

Experiences and wellbeing of children and young people in out-of-home care: first five years (Wave 1-3).

Hopkins J, Watson J, Paxman M, Zhou A, Butler M and Burke S
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Family and Community Services, 2019.
This report looks into the circumstances, placement and development of children and young people in out of home in New South Wales. It summarises statistics from the first 3 waves of the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study over about five years. POCLS is the first large scale prospective longitudinal study on out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia and will follow 4,126 children aged 0-17 years old entering OOHC in the state. This report highlights findings on children's experience prior to entering care, reported parental issues, children's permanency trajectories, exits and re-entries, final orders, duration of care and number of distinct placements, developmental trajectories, physical health, socio-emotional wellbeing, change in behaviour problems by age at entry into care, change in behaviour problems by Aboriginality, and cognitive development. Approximately three-quarters of the children had less than four placement changes, with the number of placement changes and also exits and re-entries into care increasing with age at entry to care.

Mental health and wellbeing needs of children and young people: ACYP consultation and polling findings

New South Wales. Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People
Strawberry Hills, NSW : Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People, 2019.
This report looks into the mental health needs and concerns of children young people New South Wales, and makes recommendations for action. It collates findings from polls and consultations conducted between 2015 and 2019, combining the voices of approximately 12,000 children and young people into what services and programs are working well and what isn't, what information is needed and how it should be promoted, and the issues of children and young people from socially excluded, regional, refugee and asylum seeker, and juvenile justice backgrounds. The recommendations concern access to information, school-based supports, health and community services investment, and actions for the broader community.

Suicide in Queensland: 2019 annual report

Leske S, Crompton D and Kolves K
Mt Gravatt, Qld. : Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2019.
This series provides information on trends in suicide in Queensland to help inform suicide prevention activities. It looks at current rates and trends, contributing factors and circumstantial issues, and suicide methods and sites, with data taken from the Queensland Suicide Register. This report presents information from 2013 to 2018. There were 2,085 deaths by suicide reported in this period, with high rates among men and people in remote areas. Many had experienced mental illness, relationship separation, relationship conflict, unemployment, or financial stress. Other recent studies into suicide in Queensland are also noted, as well as information on how data is collected.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Canberra, ACT : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019.
This website presents findings from 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey. 10,579 people took part: adults answered questions on behalf of themselves and children, with teenage children also able to answer some questions. Topics include: language, educational attainment, employment, income, personal pensions and allowances, self-assessed health, body mass, blood pressure, physical activity, immunisation, diet, breastfeeding, social and emotional wellbeing, mental health conditions, discrimination, smoker status and tobacco consumption, alcohol and substance use, disability, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, sight and hearing conditions, oral health, medication use, usual and preferred service providers, hospital visits, consultations with doctors and other health professionals, private health insurance, and experiences of harm. Some comparisons are included with previous surveys conducted in 2012-13 and 2004-05. This 2018-19 survey that 46% of people had at least one chronic condition that posed a significant health problem - up from 40% in 2012-13. However, 45% of people aged 15 years and over rated their own health as excellent or very good, up from 39% in 2012-13.

Review of suicide clusters and evidence-based prevention strategies for school-aged children

Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, New South Wales Child Death Review Team, NSW Ombudsman
Sydney, NSW : NSW Ombudsman, 2019.
One issue of concern to the NSW Child Death Review Team are suicide clusters - meaning a group of suicides that occur closer together in time and space than would normally be expected or predicted. The Team have commissioned this report to review what is known about suicide clusters among school-aged children and to review current prevention policies and frameworks in New South Wales. The report reviews the Australian and international literature on characteristics and mechanisms, risk factors, the impact of the internet and social media on suicidal behaviour, and postvention activities to reduce cluster suicides. The study found only a limited amount of evidence on preventing suicide clusters.
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