A growing tally of success emerging from landmark Australian studies to diagnose and treat mental health problems in children is being held back by a lack of public attention and funding, says a leading UNSW specialist in child psychology.

"We get kids as young as three who we know are on a path to significant problems in later life," says Professor Mark Dadds, a research director at the UNSW Child Behaviour Research Clinic.

"Most mental health problems begin in childhood and adolescence but these kids get very little attention and very little of the health dollar," Professor Dadds says. "Only eight per cent of mental health funding is spent on children but we know from ground-breaking work done right here in Australia that mental health problems are identifiable and treatable much earlier than most people think."

Professor Dadds made the call for more funding ahead of the launch of The Children's Mental Health Research Fund by the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir, at UNSW.

Donations are being sought for the new fund, which is administered by the UNSW Foundation. It will support specialist staff and specific projects to improve understanding and treatments of children's mental health issues.

Read the full media release at the Faculty of Science newsroom.

Media contacts: : Mark Dadds, 02 9385 3538 | m.dadds@unsw.edu.au; Bob Beale, 0411 705 435 | bbeale@unsw.edu.au