, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 294-298

Child and adolescent mental health service use in Finland

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Background: The study examines the associations of parent, teacher and self-report evaluations of child psychopathology, help-seeking variables and family factors with the use of child mental health services. Method: The study comprised an 8-year follow-up of the Epidemiological Child Psychiatry Study in Finland. Children were evaluated at age 8 with Rutter parent and teacher scales and with the Child Depression Inventory, and at age 16, with the Child Behavior Checklist and the Youth Self Report. Information was obtained from about 70 % of the follow-up sample (n=857). Results: About 7 % of the sample had been in contact with child mental health services during the follow-up. The most potent predictors at age 8 of later referral were total problem behaviours and antisocial problems in parental evaluation, teacher's evaluation of the child's need for referral and living in other than a biological two-parent family. At age 16, externalizing and internalizing problems, total competence and family composition were independently associated with service use. Conclusions: Both child psychopathology and family disruption were associated with service use. Only a minority of children at risk of psychiatric disorders had used child mental health services.

Accepted: 8 February 2001