Authors: Dr. Rosemarie Sacco & Dr. Nigel Camilleri
Aims: To present a literature review of epidemiological studies on mental health among children and young people in Malta. To present a research protocol designed for the ‘National study on mental health of children and young people in Malta’.
Hypothesis: Since mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in those aged under 25 years (Erskine et al. 2015), epidemiological data in this area needs to be a priority. The 2018 Malta Mental health Strategy (MMHS) aimed to review services offered in child and adolescent mental health and make changes to meet the present needs. Epidemiological studies determining accurate local point prevalence rates of CYP with mental disorders is necessary for this (Davies et al., 2013).
Background: The 2018 MMHS recognized that there is a lack of local epidemiological data. A paucity of epidemiological data results in major challenges for mental health advocacy, planning and allocation of the limited resources available for child and adolescent mental health (Erskine et al. 2015).
Results: To date there are no methodologically robust published studies that determine the prevalence rates of mental disorders reflecting ICD-10 or DSM-V criteria among children and young people (CYP) in Malta. The ‘National study on mental health of children and young people in Malta’ will:
- Collect data on mental disorders according to ICD-10 and DSM-V in CYP aged 5 to 16 years residing in Malta
- Estimate the point prevalence of mental disorders in CYP identified above
- Compare results to prevalence rates reported in other countries, thereby identifying problems specific to Malta
- Compare circumstances of children and young people with a mental disorder to those without a mental disorder
Conclusions: The proposed cross-sectional study will provide policy makers the relevant information to make evidence-based policy decisions on mental health services for CYP in Malta.