Abstract Psychiatric disorders and behaviour problems were found lo be commoner in children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than in matched comparison groups with tension headache and diabetes as well as in healthy children. Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem were common. Many children denied their problems. This may be due to the type of illness, its social consequences and the embarrassment experienced by the children. Discrepancies were found between the children's and their mothers' replies. These results are discussed in terms of their implication fur paediatric practice.