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Failing to intervene early in children’s mental health could be ‘catastrophic’

The four governments in the UK must take steps to protect the mental health of vulnerable young people, Adoption UK has warned.

Children who experience trauma in their earliest years are likely to experience mental health problems and failing to intervene with these children could be “catastrophic” in adolescence and beyond, the charity states.

Adoption UK’s chief executive Sue Armstrong Brown said: “Most adoptive families need professional and peer support at some point. But all too often these families are being failed by a system which invests heavily in the placement of children for adoption, then fades into the background, often with terrible consequences for the mental health of the children and their adoptive families.”

The report, published during Children’s Mental Health Week, found:

- More than two thirds of adopted young people and adopted adults surveyed by Adoption UK last year disclosed they had sought help for their mental health.

- Three quarters of adopted children suffer significant trauma in their birth families, which can cast long shadows over their mental health.

- Neurological disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder are also much more common among adopted children.

- If left undiagnosed, children with FASD are twice as likely to be at risk of mental health problems.

Adoption UK highlights that early intervention is crucial to protecting mental health as well as embedding mental health support into front line services and ensuring people are well supported in the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Mrs Armstrong Brown added: “Given the increase in isolation, depression and anxiety during the pandemic, it has never been more important to address some of the systemic problems in mental healthcare in the UK.”

Giving adopted children an equal chance of good mental health


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