Background: This study examined the relation between stress and change in emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents referred for mental health services. Method: At three waves across four years, children and their parents (N = 310, mean age at the first wave = 11.26 years, SD = 3.18) reported emotional and behavioural problems, as well as stressful life events (parent report) and perceived stress (child report). Results: Major life events before referral were associated with higher levels of parent-reported internalising and externalising problems at referral. Life events after referral were associated with a slower recovery from internalising problems. The associations between stressful life events and the course of parent- and self-reported problems were mediated by children's subjective feelings of stress. Conclusion: Stressful life events appear to interfere with recovery from internalising problems in the years after referral through increasing the experience of stress in daily life.

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Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Willemen, A.M, Koot, J.M, Ferdinand, R.F, Goossens, F.A, & Schuengel, C. (2008). Change in psychopathology in referred children: The role of life events and perceived stress. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(11), 1175–1183. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01925.x