General News Research — 24 May 2012

Improved mental-health services for children up to five years of age will help keep them in school, out of trouble and eventually out of prison, a psychiatrists’ congress in Hobart has been told.

The chairman of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Sydney, Nick Kowalenko, said infancy was a key time in human development.

“New research is revealing this is the age at which some of the most common mental illnesses first begin to manifest,” Dr Kowalenko said.

“Things like vulnerability to drug and alcohol abuse, vulnerability to violent behaviour have their roots very early in life.

“By improving relationships between infants and parents, a lot of these difficulties can be prevented.”

He said for every $1 spent on early intervention, $7 of taxpayers’ money could be saved in the future.

Delegates to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress also heard yesterday of mental illness being identified in asylum seekers.

University of Melbourne psychiatry lecturer Dr Carol Silberberg said a survey of asylum seekers and refugees with no previous mental health problems had demonstrated a prevalence of major depression at 61 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

As first appeared in The Mercury, 23 May 2012

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