Identifying and dealing with child mental health problems is challenging and can take us out of our comfort zone. Diagnosis is rarely simple, and can be significantly hampered by communication challenges.
Now that process has been made significantly easier for general practitioners, their young patients and parents, thanks to a tool developed by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
Called the Children’s Wellbeing Continuum, it combines colours, words and emoticons to encourage children to indicate their mental state along a four-part scale starting at “good” and ending at “overwhelmed”.
The continuum works as a practical start point for a suite of child mental health pathways, just launched by HealthPathways Melbourne.
The suite gives GPs guidelines on dealing with child mental health presentations including anxiety, trauma, depression and ADHD. There is also an entry point pathway entitled Child mental health and wellbeing.
Complementing the continuum is and additional resource called the Child’s Wellbeing Tool. This is a simple shared document enabling the GP and child’s carer to unpack the primary concerns, contributing factors, strengths and challenges, providing a snapshot of the issues at hand.
Appropriate tailored strategies allow the GP to manage the simpler presentations, and also starts the treatment of those waiting to see paediatricians or psychologists.