Primary schools and the amplification of social differences in child mental health: a population-based cohort study.

Marryat, L., Thompson, L. , Minnis, H. and Wilson, P. (2018) Primary schools and the amplification of social differences in child mental health: a population-based cohort study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 72(1), pp. 27-33. (doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-208995) (PMID:29056594) (PMCID:PMC5753027)

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Background: This paper examines socioeconomic inequalities in mental health at school entry and explores changes in these inequalities over the first 3 years of school. Methods: The study utilises routinely collected mental health data from education records and demographic data at ages 4 and 7 years, along with administrative school-level data. The study was set in preschool establishments and schools in Glasgow City, Scotland. Data were available on 4011 children (59.4%)at age 4 years, and 3166 of these children were followed at age 7 years (46.9% of the population). The main outcome measure was the teacher-rated Goodman’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (4–16 version) at age 7 years, which measures social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Results: Children living in the most deprived area had higher levels of mental health difficulties at age 4 years, compared with their most affluent counterparts (7.3%vs4.1% with abnormal range scores). There was a more than threefold widening of this disparity over time, so that by the age of 7 years, children from the most deprived area quintile had rates of difficulties 3.5 times higher than their more affluent peers. Children’s demographic backgrounds strongly predicted their age 7 scores, although schools appeared to make a significant contribution to mental health trajectories. Conclusions: Additional support to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds at preschool and in early primary school may help narrow inequalities. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds started school with a higher prevalence of mental health difficulties, compared with their more advantaged peers, and this disparity widened markedly over the first 3 years of school.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Child health, life course epidemiology, mental health, psychiatry, psychology.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Thompson, Dr Lucy and Wilson, Prof Philip and Marryat, Dr Louise and Minnis, Professor Helen
Authors: Marryat, L., Thompson, L., Minnis, H., and Wilson, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1470-2738
Published Online:22 October 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 72:27-33
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
603761The Scottish eHealth Informatics Research Centre (E-HIRCs)Jill PellMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/K007017/1IHW - PUBLIC HEALTH