Self-reported depression and anxiety symptoms in school-aged Singaporean children

Iliana Magiati, Kathryn Ponniah, Yoon Phaik Ooi, Yiong Huak Chan, Daniel Fung, Bernardine Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Few studies have examined anxiety and depression experiences of primary (middle) school-aged children from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and most have relied on parents or others as informants. The present study aimed to investigate self-reported anxiety and depression symptoms in Singaporean primary school-aged children. Age, gender, and ethnic differences and interactions were explored as well as similarities and differences between Singaporean children and US norms. Methods: A large representative community sample of 1655 8- to 12-year-old Singaporean children (Chinese, Malay, and Indian) completed the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) and the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) as part of a larger epidemiological study of mental health in Singaporean children. Results: Rates of clinically elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression were 9.3% and 16.9% on the MASC and the CDI, respectively. Separation and social anxieties were most common. Evidence of a gender difference in levels of emotional symptoms was most evident in Indian children, with girls reporting more symptoms than boys. The relationship between age and internalizing problems was weak. Discussion: A substantial minority of primary school-aged Singaporean children reported elevated anxious and depressive symptoms. Better understanding of the factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of these problems can help the development of culture-specific interventions and facilitate the planning of community-tailored services and initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-104
Number of pages14
JournalAsia-Pacific Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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