Analysis of common childhood mental health symptoms and the effectiveness of mental health interventions in children admitted at the university teaching hospital (UTH) children’s hospital.

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Chirwa, Angel Buchizya
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The University of Zambia
10 to 20% of children around the world have mental health problems. When left unattended, these problems impair the child’s development therefore interfering with their potential to live productive lives. Depression is among the top 10 leading causes of illness and disability in adolescent while suicide is the third leading cause of death in Children 15 to 19. It is important to identify and treat mental health problems early to improve outcomes. It is equally important to provide easy access to the right services. The aim of the study was to analyse the childhood mental health problems at UTH CH and to establish whether introducing a screening tool would improve the referral rate to specialized care. 134 children were enrolled. They were assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire.21.6% had emotional stress, 20.6% had peer problems, 14.2% had conduct problems and 1.5% had child hyperactivity and concentration difficulties. 87.3% had prosocial behaviour. Overall, 9% of children had a high total difficulty score that required referral and further assesement.12 patients were referred and only 5 were seen in the Psychiatric department despite appointments being given for the next children’s clinic. Parental employment status influenced the child’s emotional stress and peer problems. While marital status of the parents also had an effect on the child’s emotional stress.
Thesis of Master of Medicine in Psychiatry and Mental Health.