Objectives: The main aim of the study is to compare the mental health, risk factors and access to care of primary school children in Mauritius. This is a first ever survey of its kind using Goodman’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in a population which has no dedicated mental health services for children.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study based on a sample of the general population of primary school children aged 6-11 years. The teachers completed the teacher SDQ in French or English. The study assessed the rate of emotional, conduct, hyperactivity and inattention problems in rural, urban, deprived and special schools.
Results: The rate of mental health problems was higher in rural schools. Boys were more disturbed than girls in all types of schools. There is concern that some children are being disadvantaged due to lack of proper understanding of their mental health, particularly in the school settings.
Conclusion: The high rate of possible mental health problems in rural schools and in boys is of concern. The relationship between mental health disorders and the juvenile justice system is an important consideration when setting up child mental health services. Regional differences to access to care need to be addressed.