Factors influencing child mental health: A state-wide survey of Victorian children
Article first published online: 15 MAY 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health © 2012 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Volume 48, Issue 12, pages 1065–1070, December 2012
How to Cite
Goldfeld, S. R. and Hayes, L. (2012), Factors influencing child mental health: A state-wide survey of Victorian children. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 48: 1065–1070. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2012.02473.x
- Issue published online: 10 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 15 MAY 2012
- Accepted for publication 7 September 2011.
- child health;
- mental health
Aims: This study aims to estimate the prevalence of mental health problems among Victorian children and to investigate factors associated with poorer mental health.
Method: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were undertaken with the parents of 3370 randomly selected Victorian children aged 4 to 12 years. They reported on their child's mental health and special health-care needs as well as their own mental health, family functioning and a range of community and socio-demographic variables. Population estimates and odds ratios (OR) were calculated with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Results: Overall, 11.6% (95% CI = 10.3–12.9%) of Victorian children were estimated to be at risk of having mental health problems. Factors independently placing children at increased risk of mental health problems that were ‘of concern’ include a child having special health-care needs (OR = 7.89, 95% CI 5.16 to 12.08), unhealthy family functioning (OR = 3.84, 95% CI 2.19 to 6.74), parental mental health problems (OR = 7.89, 95% CI 5.16 to 12.08), neighbourhood safety (OR = 2.47, 95% CI 1.20 to 5.07) and area of residence (OR = 2.01, 95% CI 1.33 to 3.02).
Conclusions: A significant proportion of Victorian children are at some risk of mental health problems. These limited but important predictors of children's mental health reinforce the need for policy solutions that will extend beyond those offered by traditional mental health service systems.