Mental health from pre-conception to early adolescence
Thursday 26 July, 1300 – 1430
In both Australia and the United Kingdom (UK), population evidence indicates that at least 10% of children meet the criteria for a mental health disorder, and many more children experience problems at a subclinical level. Mental health problems in childhood can have consequences later in life, with increased risks for further mental health problems and poorer outcomes in physical health, education, employment and relationships. The substantial direct and indirect costs to society of childhood mental health problems have led to a focus on early prevention. It has also led to interest in the promotion of mental health competencies as a distinct aspect of mental health that might reduce risks of later disorder and associated consequences.
In this symposium, we use datasets from Australia and the UK to explore mental health from a life course perspective, from influences before a child is born through to the secondary school years. Innovative methods are applied to longitudinal data to provide fine-grained answers to questions with research and policy relevance. Together, the findings demonstrate that the mental health needs of children should be addressed within a comprehensive policy framework that takes a long-term perspective: supporting mothers with mental health problems, addressing child mental health difficulties, and bolstering competence during the school years.
The papers also highlight the need to consider children’s circumstances, including their level of disadvantage, and respond in a way proportionate to these additional challenges.