Mental disorders among a sample of children from Baghdad: sociodemographic and referral pathway

Saleem, Zainab Ali, Cucchi, Angie, Salman, Siham Kadhim, Mahmood, Dina and Abd Ali, Ziad Tark (2023) Mental disorders among a sample of children from Baghdad: sociodemographic and referral pathway. World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews, 7 (11). 01-09. ISSN 2581-9615


Background: Despite the awareness of the ongoing socio-political and economic situation on the mental health of children in Iraq, no systematic studies have been carried out. In fact, interest in children and
adolescents‘ mental health is a comparatively recent phenomenon in Iraq.

Objective: To explore the patterns of mental disorders and the referral pathway among children attending outpatient clinic of paediatrics psychiatry in Children Welfare Hospital in Baghdad.

Design: a cross sectional study design
that explored the most common presentation and the socio-demographic variables of 186 children (87 from AI Sadr City) who presented at the child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient department at the Children Welfare Hospital, Baghdad, Iraq. DSM 5 criteria were applied for diagnoses, in addition to the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. The Pearson chi-square test was used to detect significant associations between categorical variables.

Result: communication disorder was the most frequent diagnosis (25.8%) followed by both Intellectual disability and ASD (21%). speech delay was the most frequent cause of referral (58.1%), then externalizing behaviours (21.5%) and internalizing disorders in only (5.4%) of them. Most of the referrals were by paediatricians (33.9%).

Conclusion: somatic metaphors of distress seem to be the preferred idiom of distress in this population. Whilst this is culturally expected, it is important that other presentations are not overlooked. The authors advocate for urgent awareness-based and psycho-educational programs for health workers, schools, faith healers, and the public in Baghdad including Al Sadr City.

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