The Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, part of the UAB Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, is undertaking pioneer research in Catalonia on the prevention and detection of emotional and behavioural disorders among children between the ages of three and six. The results show a high percentage of children in this age group with some kind of psychopathological symptom. According to the researchers, detecting these is vital since at this age children can be treated to prevent psychopathological symptoms appearing at a later stage.
The objective of the research carried out by the Unit is to generate awareness of psychopathologies in pre-school children, particularly in schools and in educational psychologists. The aim is that these not only focus on children with language disorders, developmental delay, etc, but also on the whole of this population, based on the idea that improving prevention is much easier with children of this age group.
This age group is crucial for the future, since 99% of children who do not suffer from any kind of disruptive behaviour do not develop these disorders in later life. By contrast, those who do suffer from disruptive behaviour continue to have the same problem five years later or develop some other kind of disorder.
The concern and the studies focused on this age group are very recent. The researchers have found that many of the problems and disorders found at later stages in life begin during this period of childhood. This is the first time anyone has studied the problem in Catalonia. The geographical location is a very important factor for this kind of study, which is why the data from studies carried out in other countries can only be used as a guide and it is vital to carry out fieldwork at the same location.
The study consists of various field studies that look into the psychopathological disorders in pre-school children from different perspectives: the different ways in which these disorders develop in children living in an urban environment and those living in a rural environment, the appearance of physical symptoms, the development of eating disorders due to psychosocial factors, the difference between parents and teachers in the detection of symptoms of depression, etc.
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