Prevalence and risk factors of mood and anxiety disorders in children and young people: Findings from the Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Survey

Lisa Bunting, Emma Nolan, Claire McCartan, Gavin Davidson, Anne Grant, Ciaran Mulholland, Dirk Schubotz, Orla McBride, Jamie Murphy, Mark Shevlin

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This paper presents the key findings from the Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Prevalence Survey (NIYWS), specifically the prevalence of common mental health disorders and their association with personal, familial and socio-economic risk factors. The Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Survey (NIYWS) is a large nationally representative household survey of young people aged 2-19 years (N = 3074) and their parents (N = 2816). Data collection was by means of a stratified random probability household survey. Children and young people were eligible to take part if they were aged 2 to 19 and lived in Northern Ireland. Mood and anxiety disorders were measured using the Revised Children's Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS: Chorpita et al., 2000). Based on the cut-off scores for the RCADS 11.5% of the sample met the criteria for any mental health disorder. The most prevalent disorder was panic disorder (6.76%) and the least common was generalised anxiety disorder (2.69%). Poor child health, special educational needs, parental separation, living in a household in receipt of benefits, living in an area of deprivation and living in an urban area were all significant predictors of any mood or anxiety disorder. The results indicate somewhat elevated prevalence rates of mood and anxiety disorders in children and young people in Northern Ireland compared to England and other international countries. These findings can be used to help inform mental health policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-700
Number of pages15
Journal Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Youth Wellbeing Survey was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board (Northern Ireland), from Transformation funding from the Department of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • General Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
  • mood and anxiety disorders
  • child and adolescent
  • Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Survey (NIYWS)
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Mood Disorders/epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Anxiety Disorders/epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Northern Ireland/epidemiology


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