Mental health problems affect 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide. Despite their relevance as a leading cause of the health-related disability in this age group and their long-lasting effects throughout life, the mental health needs of children and adolescents are often neglected. In this study we investigate the prevalence and associated sociodemographic factors of internalising/externalising mental health problems in children and adolescents receiving inpatient psychiatric care. The study included patients admitted to the Children's Clinical University Hospital, Child psychiatry ward in the period of time from February to October 2019. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to screen for severity of internalizing/externalizing mental health difficulties. 59 patients were included in the study, 33 of them girls (55,9%). Average age was 11,5 (SD-4,7) years. Average total SDQ difficulties score was 17,9 (SD-5,9), girls tended to score higher in total difficulties (mean difference = 1,5 points), and internalising (emotional) difficulties (mean difference = 1,8 points), but there was no major differences in externalising difficulties (mean difference = 0,3 points). Pre-pubescent children tended to score higher on externalising difficulties then adolescents (mean difference = 1,7 points). Max level of externalising difficulties was recorded in a 3 years old boy, who lived in a full family, and was hospitalised with the diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. Max level of internalising difficulties was recorded in 3 adolescents (2 girls and 1 boy) 14 to 17 years old. All of them lived in single-parent households, and were hospitalized with the diagnoses of mood and stress-related disorders. Internalising and externalising mental health difficulties are highly prevalent in the inpatient child and adolescent psychiatric populations. There are substantial differences in the presenting pattern of internalising/externalising symptoms based on the gender, age and other sociodemographic and clinical factors, that have to be taken into account.
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