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Background: A sound mental health in school age children is critical for good academic achievements and a better transition from childhood to adulthood. The increasing prevalence of mental illness in school age children, especially the adolescents, is of great public health concern globally.
Aim: The aim of this study therefore was to determine the prevalence and pattern of mental health disorders among school age children seen at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).
Methodology: Consent for the study was obtained from the research ethical committee of the hospital. Medical case notes of all patients aged 5 years to 18 years seen in the clinic by Consultant Child and adolescent Psychiatrists from 2015 to 2019 were retrieved and thoroughly reviewed. Data was analyzed using the SPSS version 20 statistical package and results presented using descriptive and analytical methods.
Results: Out of 7,856 patients seen in the Neuropsychiatry Clinic within the period under review, 408 (5.2%) were children aged between 5 to 18 years. Male was higher with 232 (56.9%). The most prevalent mental illnesses were anxiety disorders, 58 (14.2%), depressive illnesses 46 (11.3%), schizophrenic illness 44 (10.8%), mental and behavioural abnormality secondary to substance abuse (MABD) 43 (10.5%), bipolar affective disorders 37 (9.1%), while conversion disorders was the least with 3 (0.7%).
Conclusion: Mental disorders are common among school age children seen in UPTH and often impair the emotional wellbeing of this population. A detailed and well worked out plan of management is needed to provide optimal mental health services to children and adolescents. Well-coordinated mental health services should be inculcated into the School Health Programme in Nigeria.
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