Prevalence and correlates of common mental disorders among children and adolescents in Blantyre-Urban, Malawi

Ian Matandika1,2, Donnie Mategula3, Stephen Kasenda4, Yetunde Adeniyi2, Adamson Muula1,5

  1. School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences
  2. Centre for child and Adolescent Mental Health, University of Ibadan College of Medicine, Nigeria
  3. Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Malaria Epidemiology Group, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Blantyre, Malawi
  4. Malawi Epidemiology & Intervention Research Unit, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Lilongwe, Malawi
  5. Africa Centre of Excellence in Public Health and Herbal Medicine (ACEPHEM), Blantyre, Malawi

*Corresponding Author: Ian S Matandika; Email:


The high global prevalence of mental disorders justifies the need to quantify their burden in the sub-Saharan Africa where there is a dearth of information. These mental disorders are linked to different socio-demographic factors. Objective

To determine the prevalence of, and factors associated with mental disorders among children and adolescents in Blantyre City, Malawi. Methods: Children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years were interviewed to determine their socio-demographic characteristics and assess their mental health status using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS). Associations between mental disorders and socio-demographic characteristics were tested using Chi-square and logistic regression analysis. Results

The prevalence of symptoms of psychopathology on the SDQ was 7.3% (95%CI 4.8-10.5%) while for the K-SADS was 5.9% (95% CI 3.7%-8.9%). The prevalence of mental disorders across the age ranges of 6 to 12 years and 13 to 17 years was 5.4% and 7.9 % respectively. Males had a higher prevalence (7.1%) compared to females (4.7%). Conduct disorder was most prevalent (3.4%), followed by either type of ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (2.0%). Having a single parent (p<0.001), staying with a nonbiological guardian (p<0.030), engaging in paid work (p<0.039), not attending school (p<0.019) and having teacher difficulties(p<0.028) were positively associated with a mental disorder. Conclusion

The socio-demographic factors associated with the risk of developing mental disorders may be important targets for mental health intervention programs.

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