When it comes to mental health problems in children, parents are more likely to seek help if it’s a boy than a girl, according to a study. The study was conducted by doctors to find out the perception of parents, living in an urban slum of Mumbai, about child mental health problems and their help-seeking behaviour. Titled “Study of perception and help-seeking behaviour among parents for their children with psychiatric disorder: a community-based cross-sectional study”, the study was published in The Journal of Medical Research. In all, 257 respondents were interviewed for the presence of mental health disorders and then parents of 38 children diagnosed for mental health disorders were interviewed.
The study found that 47.4 per cent parents perceived that their children suffered from some psychiatric disorder but only 10.5 per cent had sought treatment voluntarily before they were interviewed for the study. The major reasons for not seeking treatment were lack of awareness, parents felt there was no need and the stigma attached to mental health. Other reasons were, worries about adolescents being diagnosed as having a mental health disorder and the belief that adolescent problems can be resolved without medical intervention.
Notably, parents’ perception about mental health problems and the desire to seek help for their children was higher in parents of boys than girls and in mothers having higher education. Better perception about child mental health problems was also seen in families where the fathers were employed. “Overall, the study found that parents’ perception and, thereby, help-seeking behaviour for child mental health problems is very limited especially if factors like girl child, a large family, low educational status of parents, unemployment and stressful environment is present in the family,” says the study.