Objective Behavioural and emotional problems frequently emerge during adolescence. The use of standardised questionnaires is a reliable method for the detection of behavioural–emotional disturbances that could otherwise be ignored by parents and physicians equally.
Aim To describe and compare parameters of mental health assessed in Greek adolescents during their visit in the adolescent medicine clinic.
Methods 538 adolescents, 312 girls (mean ± SD) 14.9 ± 2.03 years and 226 boys (mean ± SD) 14.4 ± 2 years followed at the Center for Health and Prevention in Adolescence, during 2005–7 were included. Mental health parameters were assessed by the use of the youth self-report (Achenbach system of empirically based assessment). SPSS was used for statistical analysis.
Results The following parameters were reported by males and females, respectively: anxiety–depression 7.5% versus 11.9%; withdrawal–depression 5.3% versus 7.7%; somatic complaints 1.3% for both genders; social problems 3.5% versus 8.4%; thought problems 1.8% versus 1.3%, attention problems 4.9% versus 6.4%, delinquent behaviour 5.8% versus 3.2%, aggressive behaviour 12.5% versus 6.4%; internalised problems 13.3% versus 19.7%; externalised problems 22.7% versus 18.4%.
Conclusions There are gender-specific differences in the spectrum of mental health disorders observed during adolescence. In girls there is a prevalence of internalised problems that primarily involve emotional disturbances. On the contrary, externalised problems such as aggressive and delinquent behaviour prevail in the male adolescent population. This underlines the importance of the gender-targeted evaluation and management of behavioural and emotional problems during the adolescent years.