Assessment of the mental health of Irish Adolescents in the community

Aim: This study aims to assess a community of Irish adolescents using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) for behavioural difficulties and mental health disorders.

Method: All fifth and sixth class pupils attending eight primary schools were eligible to participate. The self-report version of the SDQ was administered to the pupils in the classroom.

Results: Thirty participants (8.7%) had an abnormal SDQ score and 53 (15.3%) had a borderline abnormal SDQ score. Abnormal SDQ scores were more common among females (9.7%; mean score = 11.86; sd = 5.4) than among males (7.6%; mean score = 10.96; sd = 5.26). The difference was most pronounced on the emotional symptoms subscale (females received a mean score of 4.03 [sd = 2.1] compared to a mean male score of 2.90 [sd = 2.1]).

Conclusions: Mental health problems are widespread among Irish adolescents. The SDQ is a useful preliminary assessment tool of the mental health profile of Irish adolescents and highlights the need for childhood mental health promotion in schools. The SDQ could also be used in a primary care setting to screen adolescents for mental disorders