ChiP - Children’s rights to health, protection, promotion and participation

Mental health and participation in habilitation of children and youth with disabilities – a research program (PMH)

The research program is expected to lead to increased knowledge about the longitudinal relations between participatio and mental health problems for children who are usually excluded from studies of mental health in children and youth.

Project manager at MDU

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Mental health and participation in life situations are universal aspects of functioning. Mental health problems and participation restrictions are relatively often reported for children with disabilities. An over-representation of health problems for these children is reported in abQ, a habilitation register aimed at improving services. No information on mental health, participation or about how mental health is affected by habilitation services is provided in the register. If adapted data collection methods, e.g i-pad adaptations using gamification techniques, are used also the children themselves can provide information about their mental health and participation.

The program will investigate relations between participation and factors affecting participation with a focus on mental health and services provided to children with disabilities who have mental health problems. Children will be followed longitudinally for 5 years where researchers collect information prospectively and relate that to data retrieved from the HabQ register. Children, parents and professionals collaborate, for 5 years, to develop and evaluate methods for involving children and parents in the intervention process. The program will provide information about how participation and mental health problems are related and about child and parent involvement in interventions. The information can facilitate further develop support to children with disabilities who have mental health problems.

The program has four sub-aims:

(i) To investigate the longitudinal interrelationship between the two dimensions of participation – attendance and involvement in a life situation and mental health – in order to identify aspects of the two participation dimensions that can be addressed through interventions separately or in conjunction to improve mental health;

(ii) To investigate the common natural pathways of participation, mental health and factors related to these pathways in children and adolescents (4-18 years of age) with impairments or long-term health conditions. The intent is to identify or verify factors that can be targeted for intervention – in order to enhance participation and mental health.

(iii) To investigate how children and parents participate in the different steps of the intervention process (defining problem, explaining problem by assessment, setting goals, planning intervention, evaluating effects) – in order to identify aspects of the process that can be targeted for intervention

(iv) To develop and evaluate accessible interventions aimed at increasing child and family participation in the intervention process.