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Children’s reading challenges may impact mental health

Researchers from the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology have identified, and are examining, four areas of research that could illuminate why children with reading difficulties are at increased risk of mental health problems.


Children with reading difficulties appear to be at increased risk of mental health problems.
Children with reading difficulties appear to be at increased risk of mental health problems.

Growing literature indicates children with reading difficulties are at an elevated risk for both internalising (emotional) and externalising (behavioural) problems, suggesting that reading difficulties are a risk factor for the development of later mental health issues.

Reading difficulties have been shown to be associated with depression, anxiety, general socio-emotional problems, behavioural problems, conduct disorder, anger and aggression.

Dr Mark Boyes, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, is the research lead on a project examining why reading challenges might contribute to poor mental health. Dr Boyes’ research paper, Why are reading difficulties associated with mental health problems?, was published in Dyslexia, and outlines four potential ‘foundation’ lines of research that could identify why children with reading difficulties are at risk of mental health problems, as well as potential targets for intervention.

“This foundation will identify factors that might indicate particular vulnerability, and will underpin the development of interventions promoting mental health in these children,” Dr Boyes said.

The project was conducted in collaboration with Macquarie University and The Dyslexia SPELD Foundation with the support of Healthway.

Further information about the project can be read here.