Feb 8, 2018, (UK) iNews: The government must do more to help children who experience trauma https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/government-must-help-children-experience-trauma/ OP ED YoungMinds’ new report, Addressing Adversity, shows that children who grow up in difficult and complex circumstances are the most likely to develop mental health problems. The report takes in evidence from 47 leading mental health experts, professionals and academics to explore how childhood trauma and adversity impacts how a person develops and grows up. … That’s why, alongside the launch of our report today, we’re calling on the Government to create a national strategy to ensure that there is far better support for children who have lived through traumatic experiences. The more adverse experiences a child goes through, the higher the likelihood that they have low levels of mental wellbeing and life satisfaction At the moment, those who need the most support aren’t getting it because their behaviours are being misunderstood by the system. As a society, we need to get much better at identifying when seemingly ‘difficult’ behaviour may actually be a very normal reaction to a traumatic event or a sign of emotional distress when a child is going through a difficult time at home. For example, if a child becomes aggressive with a school nurse who is trying to give them an injection, that could be a response to violence or drug misuse in their family – but the nurse needs clear guidance on how to identify this. Damaged life satisfaction The report finds that one in three lifetime mental health problems are directly linked to Adverse Childhood Experiences, which includes abuse, domestic violence, prejudice, bullying and bereavement. … If a young person doesn’t get the support that they need to overcome traumatic childhood experiences, it can have a huge impact on their life long-term. Too often children with complex or difficult upbringings are judged on their behaviours alone, which may mean they are more likely to be criminalised or excluded from school. But to give people the support they need, professionals need to know how to look at what’s causing different behaviours and feel confident identifying when a young person may be reacting to trauma. To do this, government need to make childhood adversity and trauma a public health priority – and ensure that all professionals who work with children, including NHS workers, teachers, social workers and police, all have training about effects of trauma on behaviour and guidance about how and when to ask about traumatic experiences. … If the government means what it says about prioritising mental health and tackling the “burning injustices” the Prime Minister has spoken about, it needs to face up to the fact that children in the most difficult and complex situations need far better support.