Interventions Can Cut Socioeconomic Inequities in Child Mental Health

Approximately 6.5% of socioeconomic differences in child mental health problems could be reduced by improving parental mental health.

HealthDay News Intervening in parental mental health and preschool attendance can go some way to reducing socioeconomic inequities in children’s mental health problems, according to a study published online April 3 in Pediatrics.

Sharon Goldfeld, Ph.D., from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues used data from the national representative birth cohort of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children with 5,107 participants to examine the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage at age 0 to 1 year on children’s mental health problems at age 10 to 11 years. The extent to which inequities in children’s mental health problems could be reduced by improving disadvantaged children’s parental mental health and their preschool attendance was estimated using an interventional effects approach.

Researchers found that compared with their nondisadvantaged peers, disadvantaged children had a higher prevalence of elevated mental health symptoms (32.8 vs 18.7%; confounder-adjusted difference in prevalence, 11.6%). Overall, 6.5% and 0.3% of the socioeconomic differences in child mental health problems could be reduced by improving disadvantaged children’s parental mental health and their preschool attendance, respectively (equivalent to absolute reductions of 0.8 and 0.04%, respectively). A 10.8% higher prevalence of elevated symptoms would remain for disadvantaged children if these interventions were delivered in combination.

“Maximum impact on child mental health inequities will nevertheless likely require a multisectoral and sustained strategy, stacking diverse types of complementary services over childhood, including those addressing disadvantage itself (e.g., family income support), together with strategies such as improved parental support and preschool provision,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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