Comparing the prevalence of mental health problems in children 6-11 across Europe.


BACKGROUND: Worldwide, approximately one in eight children or adolescents suffer from a mental disorder. The present study was designed to determine the cross-national prevalence of mental health problems in children aged 6-11 across seven European countries including Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. METHODS: Data were collected on 7682 children for whom either parent- or teacher SDQ were completed. RESULTS: The present study provides country-specific normative banding for both parent- and teacher SDQ scores. Overall, 12.8 % of children have any probable disorder, with rates ranging from 15.5 % in Lithuania to 7.8 % in Italy, 3.8 % of children have a probable emotional disorder, 8.4 % probable conduct disorder, and 2.0 % probable hyperactivity/inattention. However, when adjusting for key sociodemographic variables and parental psychological distress, country of residence did not predict the odds of having any disorder. For specific disorders, however, country of residence does have an effect on the odds of presenting with mental health problems. CONCLUSIONS: As normative data are key in the comparison of mental health status on an international level, the present data considerably advance the possibilities of future research. Furthermore, the findings underline the importance of controlling for a number of sociodemographic and parental variables when conducting international comparisons of child mental health. In addition, the findings suggest that efforts are needed locally to assist in the detection and prevention of parental psychological distress.