Services ‘re-traumatise vulnerable children’

A new report by the YoundMinds charity has found that services are inadvertently re-traumatising vulnerable children, despite being in place to help them.

The report refers to the fact that one in three adult mental health conditions are directly related to averse childhood experiences, and argues that more must be done to better understand the impact that trauma can have on mental health and well-being of young people. Adverse experiences can be in the form of neglect, abuse, prejudice or bereavement.

Trauma can lead to aggressive and self destructive behaviour, which is prioritised as a problem rather than the cause of such behaviour being properly explored. The cause is neglected and the outcome mistreated.

The report recommends that children who have had traumatic experiences should be fast-tracked for mental health support when they need it, even if they do not meet the usual thresholds for those services.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “Across the board, services need to focus less on ‘correcting’ behaviour, and more on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of childhood trauma. There are social and financial gains for the young person - but also the whole of society by doing this. Not doing anything makes no sense at all.”