Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'More Common Than Asthma:' High Rates of Mental Illness among Manitoba Kids

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'More Common Than Asthma:' High Rates of Mental Illness among Manitoba Kids

Article excerpt

Mental illness in kids measured in study

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WINNIPEG - A new study suggests the rate of mental illness among Manitoba children is almost double the national average, and even higher in Winnipeg's inner-city neighbourhoods and the province's north.

About one in seven Manitoba kids between the ages of six and 19 were diagnosed with a mental disorder by a physician between 2009 and 2013, the study by health sciences researchers at the University of Manitoba said.

Among teens, the rates of suicide, substance-use disorders and psychotic disorders followed a similar pattern -- exponentially higher in the north and the adjacent downtown and Point Douglas neighbourhoods in Winnipeg than in other parts of the province.

"Mental health problems in children are more common than asthma or diabetes," lead researcher Mariette Chartier, an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences, said in a release Thursday.

The actual rates could be higher because the study only counted kids seen by a physician and not those treated by a psychologist, school counsellor or other health care professional, the authors said.

The report found the common link is poverty. A poor family can be under financial and emotional stress, live in inadequate housing and have a hard time getting nutritious food.

"Our study doesn't give us a simple answer, but we know that social issues like poverty and poor housing have a huge impact on children's mental health."

The findings came as no surprise to Sel Burrows, an inner-city activist in Winnipeg. He said many problems start with poor housing conditions and a lack of affordable recreation programs. …

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