Highlights in child mental health research: May 2019

Prepared by AIFS, Australia, 2019

Resource Summary

This monthly research summary provides a selection of recently released papers, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses related to infant and child mental health.

Each summary includes an introductory overview of the content for that month, followed by a list of selected articles. Each article is accompanied by a brief synopsis which presents the key messages and highlights. Links to abstracts, full-text articles and related resources, where available, are provided.

What's new this month in child mental health research?

The mental health of Australian children

The May 2019 Research Highlights contains three important research articles related to the emotional well-being and mental health of Australian children.  These articles will be of interest to practitioners, service providers, and policy-makers with a role in supporting children and families.

  • Mental health service use by Australian children

    A landmark research study by Hiscock and colleagues (2019) offers multiple important findings on the use of mental health services by families, including that only 9 to 27% of Australian children with mental health problems were found to have received mental health services. The researchers also discuss characteristics found to be associated with mental health service use by this sub-group of children.

  • Bullying

    Jadambaa and colleagues (2019) synthesised 46 research studies to produce prevalence rates of traditional bullying and cyber-bullying in Australia.

  • Parental work-family conflict

    A research study by Vahedi and colleagues (2019) illustrates the potential for parents’ work-family conflict to cross over into their parenting, and the possibility of subsequent influences on children’s mental health.

Potentially-modifiable factors that may promote children’s mental health

 Interesting research findings continue to emerge that discuss potentially modifiable factors that may promote children’s mental health.  These articles are relevant to professionals, researchers, organisations and policymakers, especially those interested in prevention and early intervention.

  • Lifestyle behaviour

    – Loewen and colleagues (2019) used a sample of 3,436 Canadian children to explore the association between meeting established lifestyle recommendations during childhood with subsequent mental health in adolescence. These recommendations were related to lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, added sugar, screen-time and sleep.  The researchers found that the level of compliance to lifestyle recommendations in childhood was associated with fewer mental health visits in adolescence.

  • Household crowding

    – A UK study by Marsh and colleagues (2019) found “living in a more crowded home was associated with a greater risk of behavioural problems” (p. 1).

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