Child mental health

Abuse and neglect

The traumatic impact of abuse and neglect increases the likelihood of children developing a range of mental health issues – both during childhood and in later life. These include anxiety, depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Norman et al, 2012; Spatz Widom, 1999).

Specific types of abuse may be connected to certain mental health issues. Children who have experienced emotional abuse may be more likely to develop anxiety and depression compared with children who have experienced other types of abuse (Cecil et al, 2017; Gavin 2011). One study found that almost three quarters (74%) of young people who had experienced sexual assault developed PTSD (Lewis et al, 2019).

Abuse and neglect can also make children more vulnerable to developing more than one mental health condition at one time (known as composite mental health issues) (Chandan et al, 2019).

Providing effective mental health support for children who have experienced abuse and neglect can help them recover from its effects (NSPCC, 2019b).

https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-health-development/child-mental-health#heading-top

3 Comments on “Child mental health”

  1. A passage from Childhood Disrupted (pg.24) reads: “Well-meaning and loving parents can unintentionally do harm to a child if they are not well informed about human development …”

    Sure, people know not to yell when, for instance, a baby is sleeping in the next room; but do they know about the intricacies of why not?

    For example, what percentage of procreative adults specifically realize that, since it cannot fight or flight, a baby stuck in a crib on its back hearing parental discord in the next room can only “move into a third neurological state, known as a ‘freeze’ state … This freeze state is a trauma state” (pg.123). This causes its brain to improperly develop; and if allowed to continue, it’s the helpless infant’s starting point towards a childhood, adolescence and (in particular) adulthood in which its brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines.

    How many potential parents are aware it’s the unpredictability of a stressor, and not the intensity, that does the most harm?
    When the stressor “is completely predictable, even if it is more traumatic—such as giving a [laboratory] rat a regularly scheduled foot shock accompanied by a sharp, loud sound—the stress does not create these exact same [negative] brain changes.” (pg.42)

    Also, how many of us are aware that, since young children completely rely on their parents for protection and sustenance, they will understandably stress over having their parents angry at them for prolonged periods of time?

    Yet, general society continues to misguidedly perceive and therefore practice human reproductive rights as though we’ll somehow, in blind anticipation, be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs.

    A psychologically sound as well as a physically healthy future should be all children’s foremost right—especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter—and therefore basic child development science and rearing should be learned long before the average person has their first child.

    By not teaching this to high school students, is it not as though societally we’re implying that anyone can comfortably enough go forth with unconditionally bearing children with whatever minute amount, if any at all, of such vital knowledge they happen to have acquired over time?

    Such curriculum would enable our young people to understand (even if just the basics) how the child’s mind develops. Therefore, they could understand how (with curriculum examples) a seemingly-minute yet consequential flaw in rearing/environment, perhaps something commonly practised/experienced, can have negative lasting effects on the child’s sponge-like brain/psyche.

    Yes, such curriculum can sound invasive, especially to parents distrustful of the public education system, but I really believe it’s in our future generations’ best interests.

    “It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.” (pg.228)

    [Frank Sterle Jr.]

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  2. A 2007 study (“The Science of Early Childhood Development”) found and reported that:
    “The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. Stated simply, today’s children will become tomorrow’s citizens, workers, and parents. When we invest wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. When we fail to provide children with what they need to build a strong foundation for healthy and productive lives, we put our future prosperity and security at risk …

    “All aspects of adult human capital, from work force skills to cooperative and lawful behavior, build on capacities that are developed during childhood, beginning at birth … The basic principles of neuroscience and the process of human skill formation indicate that early intervention for the most vulnerable children will generate the greatest payback.”

    While I appreciate the study’s initiative, it’s still for me a disappointing revelation as to our collective humanity when the report’s author feels compelled to repeatedly refer to living, breathing and often enough suffering human beings as a well-returning ‘investment’ and ‘human capital’ in an attempt to convince money-minded society that it’s in our own best fiscal interest to fund early-life programs that result in lowered incidence of unhealthy, dysfunctional child development.

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