Diagnosing children with mental health difficulties: Benefits, risks and complexities

Diagnosing children with mental health difficulties: Benefits, risks and complexities

Peter Parry

This webinar explored some of the complexities involved when psychiatric labels are applied to children.

Diagnosing children with mental health difficulties

This webinar was held on 2 August 2018.

A full recording of this webinar is available on our YouTube Channel.

The audio, transcript and presentation slides are available under Event Resources on this page.

A list of resources related to this topic is available on our post-webinar forum.

Like adults, children experience mental health difficulties. In some cases, the psychiatric labels we give to these difficulties play an important role in children’s treatment and recovery. Yet in other cases, such labels can be misleading and even harmful.

In practice, psychiatric labels can influence how child and family welfare professionals work with children, even if they are not responsible for diagnosing children themselves. Such diagnoses can influence their work in myriad ways, including:

  • how they talk about and interpret children’s distress and impairment
  • the expectations they have of families
  • the interventions they provide.

This webinar critically examined the diagnostic categories and practices used in Australian health and welfare settings. It argued that it is vital that diagnoses be contextual to the child’s past and present environment and recognise the various biological, psychological and social factors that may be involved. The webinar aimed to encourage service providers and policy makers to reflect on the role that psychiatric diagnoses play and encouraged them to place such diagnoses in broader contexts relevant to the children and families they work with.

This webinar is relevant to practitioners, service providers and policy makers whose work involves children at risk of mental health conditions.

Related resource

Feature image by Getty Images

About the presenters

Peter Parry

Dr Peter Parry is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Brisbane, Australia. He has worked in both clinical and managerial roles in inpatient and community child and youth mental health services in South Australia, Wales (UK) and now Queensland. He is a senior lecturer with Children’s Health Queensland, University of Queensland and visiting senior lecturer with the Department of Psychiatry, Flinders University.

His academic interests and publications are in developmental psychology, psychiatric nosology (the classification of illness and controversies about definition of diagnoses), and conflict of interest issues in pharma-medicine relations. He also lectures on the role of lifestyle factors in managing anxiety and depression.