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).