[ASC-media] Call for urgent action on child mental health

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Sat Sep 9 11:04:50 CEST 2006


Embargo 7 am Sunday

Call for urgent action on child mental health

A generation of mentally ill adults predicted

Disadvantaged children are set to become a new generation of mentally
ill adults that will swamp Australia's health system unless urgent
action is taken, according to one of Australia's leading mental health
specialists.

Opening an international conference on infant, child and adolescent
mental health in Melbourne, Professor Graham Martin said about 14 per
cent of adolescents and children had mental health problems.

"The window for mental health in young people is early - perhaps nought
to seven years old. We are breeding young people who will not have the
necessary skills and knowledge to manage major stressors when they reach
adult life. 

"This next generation will drown mental health services. We urgently
need to tackle this discrimination in early childhood."

Professor Martin, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the
University of Queensland, said: "Every child should have a good place to
live, a home of quality relationships, they should be loved, fed and
have connections to groups they belong to. Australia is a rich country,
yet we are failing so many of our children."

Queensland and Tasmania had the greatest proportion of disadvantaged
children, according to research just published, 
Professor Martin said. "Queensland has 20 per cent of the country's
children, but 48 per cent of the country's disadvantaged children."
Those living in Aboriginal communities were especially affected, he
said.

Clinical psychologist Philip Robinson said mental health for infants,
children and adolescents received less attention than it deserved.
"About 7 per cent of the mental health dollar services about 30 per cent
of the population." Despite improvements in government spending "the
proportion that goes to children is simply not adequate".

Mr Robinson, chairman of the Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and
Family Mental Health Association, said adult remedies did not work in
children. "Children are not cut-down versions of adults. Often the
solutions are quite different."

The 17th world congress of the International Association for Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions runs until Thursday. It has
more than 800 delegates from 45 countries and highlights leading
clinical and research advances in infant, child and adolescent mental
health. Topics include ADHD, children's eating disorders, how terrorism
affects children, child soldiers, bullying, adoption and drugs and
alcohol. It is held every four years and was last in Melbourne in 1978.

Philip Robinson: 0417 806 765    Graham Martin: 0400 080 489

Media inquiries: Jo Gajewski: 0429 388 822, jo at scienceinpublic.com 
_____________ 

Niall Byrne
Science in Public
Ph +61 3 5253 1391
email:
niall at scienceinpublic.com
OR niallprivate at scienceinpublic.com
PO Box 199, Drysdale Vic Australia
www.scienceinpublic.com 


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