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Boys from poorer backgrounds at most risk of developing mental health problems

Researchers examining the mental health of 11-year-old children living in the UK have discovered that gender is a risk factor in the likelihood of issues such as hyperactivity, behavioural and wider peer and emotional problems presenting themselves in boys. Other factors include geography, with 11 year olds in Scotland enjoying a significantly lower prevalence of hyperactivity and peer problems than those in the rest of the UK.

The research highlights ethnicity as a further factor, with white boys more likely to suffer from hyperactivity and behavioural problems than other groups. For girls, children of mixed ethnic background were most at risk of experiencing these problems.

The ongoing three-year study funded by the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC), currently in its first year, is being carried out by Leslie Morrison Gutman, Heather Joshi and Ingrid Schoon from the Institute along with Michael Parsonage from the Centre for Mental Health. It focuses on the incidence and prevalence of mental health problems in children, using data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), which has followed a cohort of children born in 2000-01 from birth as well as their families.

"Socio-economic differences are clearly a factor in mental health among children. There is also some evidence to suggest that this link between mental health and income has become more pronounced in recent years, and has more of an impact on children than adults," said Dr Gutman, Research Director in the Department of Social Science.

The research was highlighted at an event, 'Children Mental Health: Trends, Contrasts and Outcomes', which took place on Wednesday as part of the annual ESRC Festival of Social Science.

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Page Published: 30/11/2015