Childhood Adversity and Perceived Need for Mental Health Care: Findings from a Canadian Community Sample

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Previous community surveys have demonstrated that individuals with self-perceived need for mental health treatment in combination with meeting DSM-III-R criteria display the greatest levels of impairment in the community and have a higher likelihood of reporting parental psychopathology. The current investigation aims to replicate and extend these findings by examining the association between a wide range of childhood adversities with self-perceived need for mental health treatment and DSM-III-R diagnosis in a Canadian community sample (N = 8116). All respondents were questioned about their childhood experiences (physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, parental discord/separation, parental death, and parental psychopathology). After controlling for covariates in a multiple logistic regression, we found that emotional neglect (OR = 2.07), physical abuse (OR = 2.16), sexual abuse (OR = 2.39), paternal psychopathology (OR = 2.41), and maternal psychopathology (OR = 2.70) were independently and significantly associated with respondents meeting DSM criteria for a mental disorder and perceiving a need for treatment. These findings underscore the importance of future longitudinal studies considering the influence of a wide range of early childhood adversities on adult psychopathology and perceived need for treatment.

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