A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reveals that one in five Irish children claim to be hearing voices, which is a sign of increased risk of mental illness.
The study was conducted by researchers from Department of Psychiatry at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) who conducted psychiatric assessments of more than 2,500 children aged between 11 and 16 years on four different occasions.
The researchers found that more than 21 percent of children between 11 and 13 years of age had experienced auditory hallucinations while the number fell to 7 percent among those aged between 13 and 16 years. However while more than half of the first group had non-psychotic psychiatric disorders, such as depression, over 80 percent of the second group had a diagnosable psychological problem.
Lead researcher Dr Ian Kelleher said that auditory hallucinations may turn out to be just a "blip on the radar" for some children but it could also be a sign of a more serious psychiatric problem. "For the other children, these symptoms turned out to be a warning sign of serious underlying psychiatric illness, including clinical depression and behavioral disorders, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder", he said.