Clinical and psycho-social profile of child and adolescent mental health care users and services at an urban child mental health clinic in South Africa
Objective: National and international child and adolescent mental healthcare policy and action advocate that the health and well being of children should be increasingly given greater attention. The purpose of this study was to describe the demographic, socio economic and clinical profile of the users at the child and adolescent mental health clinic of the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital (RMMCH).
Method: A descriptive, retrospective clinical audit from users’ clinical files was performed over a one-year period from January to December 2007. Descriptive statistical analyses of demographic and socio-economic variables were made and these variables were compared with the presenting clinical problems. Odds ratios were calculated for variables that showed a statistically significant association (p-value less than 0.05).
Results: A total of 303 users attended this clinic. Statistical comparisons between demographic data and disorders revealed that being male increased the likelihood of presenting with AHDH and disruptive behaviour
disorders; being female increased the likelihood of being sexually abused. Race showed a significant association with parent-child relationship difficulties. Regarding socio-economic variables, the identity of the caregiver of the child influenced the risk of disruptive behaviour disorders, sexual abuse, neglect and academic problems. Where the child was placed was a risk factor for disruptive behaviour disorders, sexual abuse, neglect and academic problems. Whether the mother of a user was alive or deceased, was found to be related to ADHD and disruptive behaviour and whether the father of a user was alive or deceased, was found to be related to sexual abuse and academic problems. The education level of the caregiver showed a significant association with sexual abuse, neglect
and academic problems; the marital status of the parent (widowed mother) showed a significant association with bereavement. Household income was associated with sexual abuse, neglect and academic problems.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated the impact that socio-economic circumstances have on the prevalence of childhood disorders; hence the urgent need for government and social welfare departments to improve the socio-economic status of communities. There is a need to improve psychiatric services for the population served by this hospital, including more clinics in its catchment area, as well as child psychiatry training posts and extended social work services.
Keywords: Socio-economic variables; Clinical profile; Child and adolescent mental health services; South Africa