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Early interventions for children with mental distress

July 20, 2023

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Neurodevelopment conditions, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), affect a significant proportion of the population. Whilst these conditions receive much attention, recent research reveals that individuals with neurodevelopment conditions are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges. Furthermore, accessing appropriate mental health support can be difficult for this population. This blog post will delve into a recent study that sheds light on the emergence of early mental health symptoms in children attending their first neurodevelopment assessment. We will explore the contributing factors, barriers to care, and the importance of early intervention in addressing the mental health needs of these children.

HCPA has supported numerous research businesses in neurodevelopment and mental health. A study utilising the Sydney Child Neurodevelopment Research Registry examined the mental health symptoms of young children during their initial neurodevelopment assessment. Surprisingly, the results showed that approximately half of the children displayed clinical mental health symptoms, highlighting the pressing need for support. Furthermore, the risk increased to nearly 70% for children with multiple diagnoses. This correlation emphasises the importance of addressing mental health alongside neurodevelopment concerns.

Barriers to Mental Health Care:

Despite this population’s apparent need for mental health care, individuals with neurodevelopment conditions often face barriers when seeking support. Some of these barriers include a lack of professional focus and training in mental health tailored to neurodiversity, misconceptions that individuals with neurodiversity are too complex to benefit from standard assessments and supports, limited evidence-based psychological therapies, complex government structures and referral pathways, and the tendency to attribute symptoms solely to the neurodiversity diagnosis, thereby overlooking mental health needs.

Accessing mental health professionals can be particularly challenging due to the separate considerations of disability and mental health care within systems such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). At HCPA, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive support and guidance throughout establishing and managing neurodevelopment care services. Our specialists are well-versed in industry regulations and challenges, and we offer an all-in-one solution to assist you at every stage of your business.

The Importance of Early Intervention:

Failing to provide mental health support during the early stages of symptom development can lead to more acute and chronic issues later in life. Individuals may present frequently to critical mental health services, require emergency interventions, and experience more complex and chronic mental health problems. Alarmingly, individuals with neurodevelopment conditions also face a tenfold higher risk of suicide than those without such requirements. The study highlights that over half of the children exhibited clinically elevated internalising symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, and withdrawal, with an even higher prevalence among those with multiple diagnoses. These symptoms worsen as children age, underscoring the importance of addressing mental health needs early to prevent further complications.

Moving Forward: A Call for Comprehensive Support

The federal government’s commissioning a mental health strategy for autism and establishing mental health hubs for people with intellectual disabilities in New South Wales are steps in the right direction, but a fully integrated system is necessary. At HCPA, we understand the importance of providing high-quality care. Extending mental health support to all individuals with neurodevelopment conditions, particularly those with multiple diagnoses who face the highest risk, is crucial.

We can make a difference in their lives by ensuring early intervention and addressing their unique mental health needs. Contact us today here to learn more about our all-in-one solution for establishing and managing childcare services.

SOURCES | The Conversation ‘Around half of kids getting neurodevelopment assessment show signs of mental distress. We can support them better‘ |

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