The Meanings of Childhood Mental Health Problems and Children Behaviour: A Comparative Study Between Brazil (Santos) and France (Paris 19ème)

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Eunice NAKAMURA , Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo/Unifesp - CNPq - Brazil, Santos, Brazil
Epidemiological studies developed in the last 10 years, mainly in the Western countries, indicate a global trend of an increasing number of mental health problems in children and adolescents, as confirmed by epidemiological studies conducted also in Brazil and France. To understand the phenomenon in these countries, the study had as objective to understand the meanings of mental problems and children’s behavior from a sociocultural perspective, by analyzing children’s experiences beyond adults’ discourse, namely of health professionals and children’s parents.

The research was based on the ethnographic method and took as its starting point the experiences of children with mental health problems who receive care in the health services. The fieldwork was carried out in two mental health services: the Child Mental Health Service of the Northwestern zone (SCVC), in Santos, Brazil; and the Medical and Psychological Centre of Flandre (CMP Flandre), in Paris (19ème), France. To apprehend the different meanings of childhood mental health problems in these contexts, in-depth interviews were made with health professionals of both services and with the children’s parents. The discourses about the problems and complaints concerning the children’s behaviour were analysed and grouped by categories to allow the identification of similarities and differences among the adults’ discourses, as well a comparison between the two services.

Adults relate childhood mental health problems to children’s behaviours that they consider as strange, disruptive or disturbing, as observed at home and mainly in the school. The analysis of the different meanings of childhood mental health problems in these countries point to the interpenetration between mental problems and children’s behaviour in a common sense, which solutions are sought in mental health services. We observe a displacement of children’s life problems towards mental health field, which makes it possible the solution to general children’s behaviour.