Prevalence and correlates of common mental disorders among children and adolescents in Blantyre-Urban, Malawi

  • Ian Matandika School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences
  • Donnie Mategula Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Malaria Epidemiology Group, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Blantyre, Malawi
  • Stephen Kasenda Malawi Epidemiology & Intervention Research Unit, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Lilongwe, Malawi
  • Yetunde Adeniyi . Centre for child and Adolescent Mental Health, University of Ibadan College of Medicine, Nigeria
  • Adamson Muula Africa Centre of Excellence in Public Health and Herbal Medicine (ACEPHEM), Blantyre, Malawi
Keywords: Mental disorders, Malawi, children and adolescents, prevalence


The high global prevalence of mental disorders justifies the need to quantify their burden in the sub-Saharan Africa where there is a dearth of information. These mental disorders are linked to different socio-demographic factors.
To determine the prevalence of, and factors associated with mental disorders among children and adolescents in Blantyre City, Malawi.

Children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years were interviewed to determine their socio-demographic characteristics and assess their mental health status using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS). Associations between mental disorders and socio-demographic characteristics were tested using Chi-square and logistic regression analysis.
The prevalence of symptoms of psychopathology on the SDQ was 7.3% (95%CI 4.8-10.5%) while for the K-SADS was 5.9% (95% CI 3.7%-8.9%). The prevalence of mental disorders across the age ranges of 6 to 12 years and 13 to 17 years was 5.4% and 7.9 % respectively. Males had a higher prevalence (7.1%) compared to females (4.7%). Conduct disorder was most prevalent (3.4%), followed by either type of ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (2.0%). Having a single parent (p<0.001), staying with a nonbiological guardian (p<0.030), engaging in paid work (p<0.039), not attending school (p<0.019) and having teacher difficulties(p<0.028) were positively associated with a mental disorder.
The socio-demographic factors associated with the risk of developing mental disorders may be important targets for mental health
intervention programs.

Original Research

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262