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Mental health disorders are occurring more frequently in children and adolescents. A doctoral thesis has found a link between parental time pressure and children’s mental health.

Worldwide prevalence of mental health disorders among children and adolescents is estimated at 10-20%. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of mental illnesses start before age 14 and 75% occur by the mid-twenties. The implications are far reaching, affecting development, education, and productivity.

A doctoral thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, investigated the correlation between parental time pressure and the potential for mental health problems in their children.

The study was carried out in collaboration with the Nordic School of Public Health, and made up a part of the NordChild research project on child and adolescent health and wellbeing. A total of 7 805 parents who had children between the ages of 2 and 17 were randomly selected to take part in the study. Participants were from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Questionnaires were completed by the parents, and the children’s mental health was evaluated. In addition, more detailed interviews were obtained from 25 parents with children between the ages of 3 and 5.

Overall, more women than men reported time pressure, with the highest percentage of time pressure observed in Swedish parents; (22% of women and 18% of men). Children of parents who experienced time pressure were twice as likely to experience mental health problems. The study also evaluated the effect of financial stress on child and adolescent mental health. The findings revealed that children were up to 2.5 times more likely to experience mental health problems if their parents were under financial stress. The findings of the study applied to both boys and girls.

This study, the first of its kind, found an overall positive association between parental time and financial pressures and negative effects on the mental health of their children.


“Child and Adolescent Mental Health” Fact Sheet Available from: Last Accessed: Feb 4, 2015.

The Sahlgrenska Academy News Release “Association between parental time pressure and mental health problems among children” Available from: Last Accessed: Feb 4, 2015.

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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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