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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


RAMOS, Laura et al. Estudio sobre la salud mental de una población de niños y niñas escolarizados desde la perspectiva epidemiológica. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2023, vol.40, n.2, pp.373-391. ISSN 1668-7027.

This article shows the results of an empirical research study on behavioral and emotional problems in schoolchildren between 6 and 11 years old.

From an epidemiological perspective the goal is to describe the behavioral problems of a clinical sample (N= 395, age: . = 7.92 y SD = 1.75) and a non-clinical sample (N = 363, age: M = 8.78 años y DE = 1.73). The specific objectives are to analyze the differences by sex and possible sociodemographic variables in both clinical and non-clinical contexts. A comparative study between both samples is not carried out.

We administered the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and a sociodemographic survey to the responsible adults. The quantitative analysis was carried out through studies of frequency, distribution and associations among variables in order to describe both samples from the point of view of the CBCL results and of the sociodemographic variables. In order to identify the possible sociodemographic conditioning factors in the childhood and youth psychopathology, we studied the associations among the CBCL syndrome scale scores and the different sociodemographic variables through the analysis of variance (ANOVA).

The results of the clinical sample show mental health deterioration in boys and girls compared to previous studies. The increase of the internalizing and externalizing syndrome scores is significant. The prejudices and gender stereotypes constitute obstacles to gain access to mental health services in childhood, especially for girls whose psychological conditions may often go unnoticed.

In the non-clinical sample, the gender distribution is even and the total average of average scores is lower compared to studies performed in other populations in previous years.

In both samples we observe a significant relation between the psychological and behavioral problems and the socio-economic conditions of the family. The higher the educational and socio-economic vulnerability, the higher the deterioration of the children’s mental health.

The simultaneous study from the epidemiological perspective in both samples is necessary to detect psychopathological problems in childhood.

This study encountered some limitations: the difficulty to continue the field work due to sanitary restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to replicate the study in both samples considering the impact of the pandemic and the alleged deterioration of the sociodemographic variables and family conditions. Another limitation has been the socio-economic homogeneity of the clinical sample. It would be useful in the future to include clinical samples that belong to other socioeconomic sectors who receive mental health care from private medical insurances or medical insurances run by labor unions.

The shortage of epidemiological studies on emotional and behavioral problems in children and the lack of research work on the right to receive mental health care in childhood, indicate the absence of this topic in the political agenda. This deficit prevents the implementation of efficient programs to prevent and early detect mental health problems in children, to extend clinical care proposals in the community and to train professionals so that the programs can have an accurate impact on the population.

It is a priority to continue the sustained inquiry in both populations in order to ensure the follow-up of the mental health conditions. Also, it would be useful to extend and deepen the analysis incorporating the examination of other family problems such as violence situations, consumption of psychoactive drugs, suicides and other loss situation.

Palabras clave : mental health; childhood; Child Behavior Checklist; sociodemographic conditions.

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