Report on a child health issue


The purpose of this report is to acknowledge the issue of mental health problem in school going children aged between 10-14 years so that health professionals may practice to ensure their wellbeing. The report is meant for the nursing profession and it highlights the issue, its contributing factors and impact on the family. Finally, the report makes recommendations concerning the issue to the nursing practice.

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Mental health problem in school going kids, aged between ten to fourteen years, is a children health issue in Australia. African Medical Research Foundation (2010) says that there are three types of mental health problem observed among the young ones namely; mental retardation, epilepsy and psychological disorders. The mental illnesses are attributed to biological, environmental and psychological factors (Ford-Martin and Wells, 2010).

Children suffering from these conditions may exhibit anti-social behavior and destruction of property at home and other places like schools (Franklin, 2010). In addition, kids having mental health problems may experience difficulties in learning and taking care of themselves besides being deceitful (Franklin, 2010). They usually require special type of education in addition to therapy and counseling (Ford-Martin and Wells, 2010).

It is recommended that the nursing community strictly observe the practice of care to children and women. In addition, nurses should work in collaboration with various professionals and agencies to promote community health through ensuring emotional support and offering mental health screening services as well as proper nutrition and developmental needs to children.

Definition of terms

Mental health: According to African Research Foundation, commonly referred to as AMREF (2010), mental health is a condition of psychological well being whereby an individual is able to act accordingly and appreciate the outcome of his deeds within the society.

Meningitis: “An infection of the membrane covering the brain” (Ford-Martin, 2010)

Encephalitis:  “An inflammation of the brain” (Davidson, 2010).

Mental retardation. AMREF (2010) says that this is a mental development problem typified by restrained rational function and “adoptive behavior”

Psychological disorder:  “an abnormal behavior” (AMREF, 2010).

Trisomy: Unusual condition where the somatic chromosome is triploid instead of being haploid (Ford-Martin and Wells, 2010).


As at June 2006, 19% of Australia’s population constituted of children aged 15 years and below (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006) henceforth ABS. Improvements in health sector due to improved living conditions, education, health care and immunization may tempt one to think that these children will be the healthiest in Australia’s history (Patton et al, 2005). Nevertheless, there are up coming issues related to brisk social change and linked fresh morbidities “such as increasing levels of behavioral, developmental, mental health and social problems” (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006).

In 2004-2005, 41% of children aged 15 years and below had chronic health issue (ABS, 2006). Of the total disease cases, mental health issues accounted for 7% (ABS, 2008). The conditions of major concern were behavioral, emotional and psychological development troubles which accounted for 3% each (ABS, 2008). Highest incidences of these cases were observed in kids aged between 10-14 years (ABS, 2008).

Lack of good mental health to kids interferes with their ability to develop to full their potential in life (Thompson, 2007). There are three types of mental illness observed in children and they are “mental retardation, psychological disorder and epilepsy” (AMREF, 2010). Mental problems are caused by biological, environmental, and psychological factors (Ford-Martin and Wells, 2010).

            Biological factors that are associated with the problem include chemical imbalances, infections, brain injuries and poor nutrition as well as heredity (Thompson, 2007). Chemicals in the brain which are attributed to development of mental illnesses are known as neurotransmitters (Davidson, 2010). Neurotransmitters form the channel of communication between the nervous system and the brain. If these structures malfunction, the brain becomes unable to process the information being transmitted and signs of mental problem arise (Davidson, 2010).

            Childhood and maternal infections have also been known to cause mental illnesses in kids (Ford-Martin, 2010).  Childhood diseases like whooping cough, measles, and hyperthyroidism as well as Hib disease have been established to cause problems if not properly diagnosed and treated (Ford-Martin, 2010). In addition, meningitis or encephalitis causes bulging in the head which leads to brain damage and then mental retardation. Shock brain injury caused by vigorous shaking or blow may also cause brain damage (Davidson, 2010). Further, maternal illnesses like rubella, glandular disorders and cytomegalovirus infection cause mental retardation in new born and continue to adulthood (Ford-Martin, 2010). Hypertension and toxemia reduce the level of oxygen in circulation and in turn negatively affect the infant’s brain development and cause mental retardation (Strauss and Barbieri, 2009). Fatal alcohol syndrome is a major parental issue that leads to mental illnesses (AMREF, 2010). It is brought about by mother’s heavy consumption of alcohol in the first trimester of pregnancy. According to Ford-Martin (2010), research has revealed that even moderate drinking in pregnancy can lead to learning difficulties. Other factors like substance abuse and cigarette smoking are also associated with mental retardation in children.

            Physical injuries to the “brain, head and central nervous system” that may occur during birth can cause this problem as well (AMREF, 2010). Damages in the neural tube causes cerebrospinal fluid to amass in hydrocephalus leading to high pressure in the brain and thereof problems in mental well being of an individual (Davidson, 2010). In addition, brain defects and early damages during or after birth as well as interrupted brain development lead to conditions like autism.

            Further, poor nutrition which leads to lack of vitamin B12 causes mental problems to young ones (AMREF, 2010). In addition, chemicals like mercury and lead found in old buildings poison the children and lead to the problem of mental illness (Davidson, 2010).

            Mental illness is also caused by altered genetic factors (Ford-Martin, 2010). The susceptibility to suffer from mental illness is passed through genes in a defected sex chromosome such as fragile X chromosome. Body cells may have an extra chromosome to become triploid instead of haploid in nature (Strauss and Barbieri, 2009). Altered forms like triploid lead to trisomy, also known as mongolism or Dawn syndrome (Davidson, 2010). Professional hypothesize that mental illness is caused by multiple genetic flaws (Thompson, 2007).

Psychological and environmental factors may as well lead to mental problems in young ones.  Factors like extended separation of a child from the parents or caregivers may lead to cases of mental problems (AMREF, 2010). In addition, bad relations at home and loss of loved ones may also be contributing factors (Franklin, 2010). Psychological factors which may cause the problem include lack of emotional support as well as child abuse and neglect. AMREF (2010) says that a child may be “denied love, acceptance, security, recognition and praise for good behavior in play or learning, encouragement, loving discipline, stimulation and opportunities for learning and developing independence.”  Franklin (2010) informs that any kid who is “physically abused, threatened and highly criticized” is likely to suffer from mental illness.

The mentally challenged children have various effects to our families (Franklin, 2010). These children may require attendance of family members if they are not able to take care of themselves (Wrights, 2005). In addition, they require special education, counseling and therapy thus leading to more expenses (Ford-Martin and Wells, 2010).  Further, they may show aggressive behavior towards other children and adults in our society (Franklin, 2010). They may be involved in bullying as well as constant fights and other forms of crime (National Mental Health Information Centre, 2010). In other situations, these children destroy or vandalize properties at home. This may cause a sense of fear to family members. Some mentally challenged children may show high levels of deceitfulness and violation of community norms (World Health Organization, 2010).


Bearing in mind that mental health problem can arise before, during and even after birth, the nursing fraternity should strictly observe the practice of caring for women, and especially to “childbearing and child rearing women” (Nursing, 2010).  Nurses ought to work in collaboration with other professionals, agencies and organizations to ascertain that women and the young ones get proper nutrition, social support and health care.

The care for young ones must always focus on wellbeing of infants, children as well as teens. The nurses must work and make sure that normal developmental requirements of kids and their families are achieved even as they strive to cure the “symptoms of serious illnesses and injuries” (Nursing, 2010).

The nurses must in addition ensure the health of young ones through intervening child neglect cases and conducting mental health screening activities. They must provide psychotherapy to young ones and give mental health support to community. Further, it is critical to provide emotional support to patients and relatives in cases of physical illnesses and injuries.

Mental health problem among school going children in Australia has been observed. Major mental health problems are highly identified in kids aged between 10 to 14 years. The three types of mental health problems in children are epilepsy, psychological disorders and mental retardation. Genetic factors like cases of trisomy and fragile X chromosome are known to cause mental problems and especially retardation.             Environmental factors like nutrition, family condition and poisoning may also lead to this problem. Childhood illnesses and injuries during or after birth may affect the mind and thereof mental problem. In addition, maternal illness and issues like drinking have also been known to affect psychological development of a young one.

A child having mental health issues is usually a slow learner and unable to do some things in life. These kinds usually exhibit antisocial behavior thus causing trouble at home. They may also require daily attendance by family members, special education and counseling leading to expenses. It is highly recommended that nurses be more through in ensuring the well being of women and children in the nursing practice.


Africa Medical Research Foundation. (2010).AMREF Directorate of Learning Systems Distance Education Courses. Retrieved on August 17th 2010 from;             alH.doc

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). Health of Children in Australia: A Snapshot,      2004-05. ABS, Canberra

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2006). Australia’s Health. No. AUS 73:       Canberra.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2006). Population by Age and Sex: Australian States and                     Territories. ABS, Canberra.

Davidson T. (2010).Childhood disintegrative disorder. Encyclopedia of Mental   Disorders. Retrieved on August 17th 2010 from; disintegrative-disorder.html

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Wright L. (2005). Nurses and families: A guide to family assessment and intervention    (4th Ed.). Philadelphia: F.A.Davis

Volkmar F. R. (2009).  Autism and pervasive developmental disorders. London:                         Cambridge University Press


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