01 August 2019

Adequacy of treatment for child and adolescent mental disorders in Australia: A national study

This research identified the percentage of 6–17 year olds with mental disorders in the 2013–2014 Australian national survey of mental health who had sufficient contact with health professionals during the 18 months after the survey to have received treatment meeting criteria for minimally adequate treatment (MAT) and the factors associated with children having this level of contact with health professionals. The study found that during  the 18 months after children were identified with a mental disorder, only a small percentage had enough contact with health professionals to allow for the provision of MAT; with only 11.6% of children with disorders having sufficient contact to achieve minimally adequate treatment. Although children with moderate or severe functional impairment were more likely to have had sufficient contact to meet (MAT, only 20.2% had contact sufficient for MAT, 46%  had contact that did not achieve MAT criteria and 33.8% did not have contact with health professionals. The authors suggested that given the few children who are receiving adequate treatment for their mental health disorders it is not surprising that the prevalence of childhood mental disorders is not changing.