One in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem that sees them lag a year behind their peers in reading and numeracy, according to research that stresses the mental health of young people needs to be a focus in primary schools.
The CATS study at the Centre for Adolescent Health, looked at common emotional and behavioural problems and academic performance in more than 1000 eight and nine-year-old children.
The research found about one in five boys and one in seven girls had at least borderline emotional and behavioural problems.
Boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties – 20 per cent of the sample– were 12 months behind their peers in both reading and numeracy, based on data from NAPLAN tests.
The study’s lead author, Lisa Mundy, said it was unlikely increasing academic pressure was causing emotional and behavioural problems, which were more common in secondary school.
“A more likely explanation is that mental health and behavioural problems are directly contributing to poor academic performance, possibly through reduced attention to school work or school absence,” Dr Mundy said.
Dr Lisa Mundy did an interview with the ABC television.