Mental Health Problems in Austrian Adolescents: A Nationwide, Two-Stage Epidemiological Study Applying DSM-5 Criteria

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2017 Dec;26(12):1483-1499. doi: 10.1007/s00787-017-0999-6. Epub 2017 May 24.


This is a nationwide epidemiological study using DSM-5 criteria to assess the prevalence of mental disorders in a large sample of Austrian adolescents between 10 and 18 years including hard-to-reach samples. A sample of 3615 adolescents from four cohorts (school grades 5, 7, 9, 11; age range 10-18 years) was recruited from 261 schools, samples of unemployed adolescents (n = 39) and adolescents from mental health institutions (n = 137) were added. The Youth Self-Report and SCOFF were used to screen for mental health problems. In a second phase, the Childrens' Diagnostic Interview for Mental Disorders was used to make point and lifetime psychiatric diagnoses. Mental health service use was also assessed. Point prevalence and lifetime prevalence rates for at least one psychiatric disorder were 23.9% and 35.8%. The highest lifetime prevalence rates were found for anxiety disorders (15.6%), neurodevelopmental disorders (9.3%; ADHD 5.2%) and depressive disorders (6.2%). Forty-seven percent of adolescents with a lifetime psychiatric disorder had a second diagnosis. Internalising disorders were more prevalent in girls, while neurodevelopmental disorders and disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders were more prevalent in boys. Of those with a lifetime psychiatric disorder, 47.5% had contacted mental health services. Of the residual 52.5% who had not contacted mental health services, 18.1% expressed an interest in treatment. DSM-5 mental health disorders are highly prevalent among Austrian adolescents. Over 50% had or were interested in accessing treatment. Early access to effective interventions for these problems is needed to reduce burden due to mental health disorders.

Keywords: Adolescents; DSM-5; Epidemiology; Mental disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Austria
  • Child
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health / trends*