Year: 2023 Source: The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. (2022). 67(7), 512‐523. SIEC No: 20230922

The life course of children and adolescents with mental disorders is an important area of investigation, yet it remains understudied. This study provides a first-ever comprehensive examination of the relationship between child and adolescent mental disorders and subsequent suicidal and adverse social outcomes in early adulthood using population-based data.
De-identified administrative databases were used to create a birth cohort of 60,838 residents of Manitoba born between April 1980 to March 1985 who were followed until March 2015. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) and odds ratios (aORs) were calculated to determine associations between physician-diagnosed mental disorders in childhood or adolescence and a range of adverse early adulthood (ages 18 to 35) outcomes.
Diagnoses of mood/anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance use disorder, conduct disorder, psychotic disorder, personality disorders in childhood or adolescence were associated with having the same diagnoses in adulthood. These mental disorder diagnoses in childhood/adolescence were strongly associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviors and adverse adult social outcomes in adulthood. Similarly, suicide attempts in adolescence conferred an increased risk in adulthood of suicide death (aHR: 3.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.9-6.9), suicide attempts (aHR: 6.2; CI: 5.0–7.6), social housing use (aHR: 1.7; CI 1.4–2.1), income assistance (aHR: 1.8; CI 1.6–2.1), criminal accusation (aHR: 2.2; CI 2.0–2.5), criminal victimization (aHR:2.5; CI 2.2–2.7), and not completing high school (aOR: 3.1; CI: 2.5–3.9).
Mental disorders diagnosed in childhood and adolescence are important risk factors not only for mental disorders in adulthood but also for a range of early adult adversity. These findings provide an evidence-based prognosis of children’s long-term well-being and a rationale for ensuring timely access to mental health services. Better population-level mental health promotion and early intervention for children and adolescents with mental disorders are promising for improving future adult outcomes.