Mental health disorders in children and young people: scope, cause and prevention

S.R. Zubrick, S.R. Silburn, P. Burton, E. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To review the scope and characteristics of mental health disorders in children and young people in Australia; detail some emerging concepts of the causal pathways of mental hearth disorders in children and young people; and discuss aspects of the prevention of mental health disorders and the promotion of mental health in children and young people. Method: An integrated review of selected literature. Results: (i) While as many as one in five Australian children aged from four to 17 have significant mental health problems there remains a need for prevalence estimates in subsections of the population, notably children and young people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent; (ii) appropriate studies of gene-environment interaction will require better measurement and developmental exposition of those risk exposures that are known to be on the causal pathway to mental health disorder; and (iii) universal, selective and indicated prevention trials and evaluations directed at anxiety, depression and conduct disorder are needed. Conclusion: Preventive intervention and promotion in mental health must entail effective collaboration at national, state and local levels between health, welfare and education sectors. These sectors must be informed by high quality epidemiology and a knowledge of the causal pathways of mental health disorders. Such intervention must also improve the movement of scientific knowledge to political policy on one hand and to praxis on the other. This will require a clear and persistent vision of the urgency, costs and consequences of mental health disorders in children and young people coupled with effective leadership and political resolve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-578
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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