The Mental Health of Manitoba's Children

The Mental Health of Manitoba's Children

This report was conducted by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the request of the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet (HCCC) and Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living (MHSAL). It presents valuable current and cross-departmental information to inform the continued development, implementation, and evaluation of the province’s Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) Strategy, with the time frames 2012/13 and earlier, providing a comprehensive baseline assessment of children’s mental health before the CYMH Strategy was launched.

Mental disorders are the most common of childhood illnesses and yet until recently they have received relatively little attention (Kieling et al., 2011). Waddell, McEwan, Shepherd, Offord, and Hua (2005) reported that at any point in time 12.6% of Canadian children are experiencing a mental disorder. In a recent Ontario study, 34% of Grade 7

to 12 students reported a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress and 12% of students had had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year (Boak, Hamilton, Adlaf, Henderson, & Mann, 2016). Mental disorders in children and adolescents can negatively impact their lives by interfering with their ability to succeed in school, establish healthy relationships, and eventually make their way into the workforce. The age of onset of most mental disorders is in childhood and they often persist into adulthood (Woodward & Fergusson, 2001). Unfortunately, most children with mental disorders do not receive appropriate treatment. It is important to keep children mentally healthy and prevent mental illness from developing, rather than waiting until an illness is well established and has caused considerable suffering (National Research Council & Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, 2009). It is therefore critical to understand what influences the development of mental disorders. Understanding the relationships between mental disorders, and healthcare services, social services, justice system involvement, educational outcomes, physical health problems, and early childhood factors may increase our understanding of how and when to intervene in supporting the mental health of children, and how best to integrate public policies across sectors to address mental health.

We examined a number of mental health indicators in this study (see Figure E.1) and we identified five main objectives for this report:

  1. What are the diagnostic prevalence estimates of children with mental disorders, developmental disorders, and suicidal behaviours, and do these prevalence estimates differ by factors such as age, sex, geographic region, and income quintile?
  2. How do children diagnosed with mental disorders, developmental disorders, and suicidal behaviours compare to children with no disorders in their healthcare use, social services use, and justice system involvement?
  3. How do the educational outcomes of children diagnosed with mental disorders, developmental disorders, and suicidal behaviours compare to the educational outcomes of children with no disorders?
  4. How does the physical health of children diagnosed with mental disorders, developmental disorders, and suicidal behaviours compare to the physical health of children with no disorders?
  5. What early childhood factors are associated with being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders in middle childhood?

No Disorders is defined as not having any of the diagnosed mental disorders, suicidal behaviours, and diagnosed developmental disorders examined in this report.

ORGANIZATION: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016
LOCATION: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada