Children in troubled households more likely to suffer mental health issues

Children growing up living with someone who has a common mental health disorder are 63 per cent more likely to suffer problems such as anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour and personality disorders, according to a study.

Researchers at Cardiff University looked at the anonymised hospital and GP records of 190,000 children in Wales containing information on mental health symptoms, diagnosis and treatment and developmental disorders including learning disabilities or attention deficit during the first 15 years of their lives.

The information, which was drawn from a 14-year period between 1998 and 2012, points to a link between members of households who have poor mental health and personality or eating disorders in children.

The study claimed mental health problems resulted in a 42 per cent increase in developmental disorders among children while kids who suffered assault or were mistreated were 90 per cent more likely to experience mental health problems in childhood and 65 per cent more likely to suffer developmental disorders.

Dr Emily Lowthian, who led the research, said mental health problems in childhood “transgress into adulthood” and called on the Welsh government to help children and their families by implementing “support strategies.”

“Our findings demonstrate that even before the pandemic hit, mental ill-health and a wide array of associated symptoms were common experiences for many children and young people,” she said.

“Over the last 18 months of the pandemic in particular, so many people will have had difficulties caused by isolation, changes to their work-life and lots of other factors too. Children and young people who have missed out on school and other important experiences will be among those who have found it most difficult.”

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