A new study out of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the University of Manitoba says one out of every seven Manitoban children are being diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
The study titled ‘The Mental Health of Manitoba’s Children’ looked at data from 2009-2013 for children aged 6-19.
Researchers looked at doctor-diagnosed disorders like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, behavioural disorders like ADHD, and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.
“Mental health problems in children are more common than asthma or diabetes. We likely all know a child or teen who is struggling with a mental disorder,” said Dr. Mariette Chartier in a news release. Chartier is an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences in the Max Rady College of Medicine and the study’s lead author.
The study also found children from low-income families are at greater risk of developing a mental disorder. Chartier said that is because they are contending with poor housing, lower-quality food and higher levels of stress.
Chartier said Thursday that children with a mental disorder also do worse in school, are more likely to get in trouble with the law, and their overall physical health is lower.
Researchers also looked at suicide rates. They found in Manitoba, for teens aged 13-19, the suicide rate is nearly double the national average. Over the four-year study period, there were 91 reports of suicide and 504 reports of teens who attempted suicide. Many of these teens had been diagnosed with one or more mental disorders.
Chartier and her team found mental disorder diagnoses were more common in cities compared to rural settings.
However, substance abuse and suicide attempt rates were higher in rural communities.
The study is calling for work to continue on a Child and Youth Mental Health Strategy, for earlier diagnoses, and for more education for children, parents, and anybody working with children and teens.
All personal information was removed from the data used in the study before it arrived at MCHP.