Emotional and behavioural problems in Swedish preschool children rated by preschool teachers

Gustafsson, B.M. et al. BMC Pediatrics | Published: 21 April 2017

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Background: There is a high risk that young children who show early signs of mental health problems develop symptoms in the same or overlapping areas some years later. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is widely used to screen externalizing and internalizing problems early in life. In Sweden 80–90% of all children aged 1–5 years go to preschool and preschool is thus an appropriate context for finding early signs of mental health problems among children.

 

Conclusions: The teacher version of the SDQ, for 2–4 year-olds, can be used as a screening instrument to identify early signs of emotional distress/behavioural problems in young children. Preschool teachers seem to be able to identify children with problematic behaviour with the use of SDQ at an early age. The development of behaviour over time differs for the different subscales of SDQ. The Swedish norms for SDQ are to a large extent, similar to findings from other European countries.

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Development and validation of brief scales to measure emotional and behavioural problems

Shen, M. et al. (2017) BMJ Open. 7:e012961

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Objectives: To develop and validate brief scales to measure common emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents in the examination-oriented education system and collectivistic culture of China.

 

Conclusions: Four brief scales were developed and validated among adolescents in middle schools of China. The scales have good psychometric properties with minor differential item functioning. They can be used in middle school settings, and will help school officials to assess the students’ emotional/behavioural problems.

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Music therapy for children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems

Porter, S. et al. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Published online: 27 October 2016

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Background: Although music therapy (MT) is considered an effective intervention for young people with mental health needs, its efficacy in clinical settings is unclear. We therefore examined the efficacy of MT in clinical practice.

Methods: Two hundred and fifty-one child (8–16 years, with social, emotional, behavioural and developmental difficulties) and parent dyads from six Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service community care facilities in Northern Ireland were randomised to 12 weekly sessions of MT plus usual care [n = 123; 76 in final analyses] or usual care alone [n = 128; 105 in final analyses]. Follow-up occurred at 13 weeks and 26 weeks postrandomisation. Primary outcome was improvement in communication (Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales) (SSIS) at 13 weeks. Secondary outcomes included social functioning, self-esteem, depression and family functioning.

Results: There was no significant difference for the child SSIS at week 13 (adjusted difference in mean 2.4; 95% CI −1.2 to 6.1; p = .19) or for the guardian SSIS (0.5; 95% CI −2.9 to 3.8; p = .78). However, for participants aged 13 and over in the intervention group, the child SSIS communication was significantly improved (6.1, 95% CI 1.6 to 10.5; p = .007) but not the guardian SSIS (1.1; 95% CI −2.9 to 5.2; p = .59). Overall, self-esteem was significantly improved and depression scores were significantly lower at week 13. There was no significant difference in family or social functioning at week 13.

Conclusions: While the findings provide some evidence for the integration of music therapy into clinical practice, differences relating to subgroups and secondary outcomes indicate the need for further study.

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Is social media to blame for the worsening mental health of teenage girls?

Ramsden, P. The Conversation | Published online: 25 August 2016

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New research by the Department of Education has found that the mental well-being of teenage girls in the UK is worsening. The survey, which took the views of 30,000 14-year-old pupils in 2005 and 2014, found that 37% of girls suffer from psychological distress, up from 34% in 2005. (This compares with 15% for boys in 2014, down from 17% a decade earlier.) The report’s authors noted that one of the things that has changed between 2005 and 2014 is the “advent of the social media age”.

The adolescent years are a time of rapid physical, cognitive and emotional development. Teenagers interact with people in order to learn how to become competent adults. In the past they would engage with parents, teachers and other adults in their community as well as extended family members and friends. Now we can also add social media to that list of social and emotional development. But why should the advent of social media be a problem?

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Predictors of rate of change for children and youth with emotional disorders: a naturalistic observational study

Nilsen, T.S. et al. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. Published online: 5 May 2016

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Background: To examine demographic and clinical characteristics as potential predictors of change for children and youth with emotional disorders treated at two child and adolescent mental health outpatient services (CAMHS) in Norway.

Methods: The study was of naturalistic observational type with “treatment as usual” (TAU). The sample consisted of 84 children and youth with emotional disorders. The Health of the Nation Outcome Scale (HONOSCA), and the Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) were administered at intake (T0), during the assessment (T1) and approximately six months after assessment (T2). Change was analysed by means of the linear mixed models procedure.

Results: For the HONOSCA total score, youths with a diagnosis of depression had statistically higher symptom severity levels at baseline and significantly lower change rates as compared to youths with an anxiety disorder.

Conclusions: The current study adds to the limited knowledge of predictors of rate of change for children and adolescents with emotional disorders treated within CAMHS. Our results point to a special need to improve clinical care for depressed children and adolescents. Important limitations comprising the external validity of the study concern missing data, a small study sample, and lack of information regarding the content and extent of the service provided.

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