Comparison of the prevalence of mental health problems in deaf and hearing children and adolescents in Australia.Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 Apr; 44(4):351-7.AN
The aims of the present study were to (i) identify the prevalence rate and nature of mental health problems in a group of Australian deaf children and adolescents and compare these to those reported for the Australian hearing population; and (ii) identify specific demographic characteristics that may typify deaf children and adolescents with mental health problems.
Sixty-six parents of deaf children and adolescents aged 6-18 years, their teachers and 38 adolescents participated in the study. Data related to mental health problems were collected using the Child Behaviour Checklist and Youth Self-Report. Data related to demographic characteristics were obtained via parent and teacher surveys.
The overall prevalence rate of mental health problems reported by parents and adolescents in the present study is comparable to that of the Australian hearing population. Parents in the present study, however, reported significantly more concerns on the social problem and thought problem scales than did Australian parents of hearing children and adolescents. There were also significant differences between the prevalence and nature of mental health problems as reported by the deaf adolescents in the present study when compared to deaf adolescents in another Australian study. These differences appear to be explained by differences in the preferred communication mode of the participants in the two studies.
The known heterogeneity within the Australian deaf child and adolescent population with respect to preferred mode of communication has important implications not only for the appropriate selection and use of psychiatric instruments in assessing child and adolescent mental health but also for the accurate reporting of the prevalence and nature of mental health problems within this population.