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Childhood maltreatment may cause up to 40% of mental illnesses

sad teen maltreated

Results from a new study suggest that childhood maltreatment may cause up to 40% of mental health conditions.

Here, childhood maltreatment refers to neglect and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse before age 18. The mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and suicide attempts.

We've known for a while that many common mental illnesses stem from a traumatic childhood. What we didn't understand was to what extent. Now, we know that almost half of the mentally ill people today would not have been so if they were more protected during childhood.

Is that hard to imagine? Not really.

Kids who are in their formative years can be easily affected psychologically by whatever experience they're exposed to. A child exposed to love can grow up to become very empathic. On the other hand, one who has never enjoyed love and care but is instead abused will likely have a negative outlook towards life. They carry on those thought patterns long into their future, leading to anxiety and depression. And some resort to drugs and alcohol to quiet the voices in their head.

That's why as parents, we have a duty to nurture our young ones in an environment filled with positivity and compassion.

It's not enough to provide support for patients when they've already developed these psychiatric problems. The best step is prevention.

The study, which was conducted in Australia, found that eliminating childhood maltreatment in Australia would have prevented 184,636 years of healthy life lost through mental health conditions in 2023.

Mental illness, especially through suicide, is a leading cause of death among young people. This is big.

There are now effective interventions and programs to support children experiencing maltreatment.

But more still needs to be done.

We understand that parents under chronic stress may neglect and emotionally abuse their kids.

Some parents are also patients of mental illness themselves.

If you're a parent and it seems the words are speaking to you, you probably have realized the risks your lovely kids are exposed to now.

You love them. You want to protect them. And this you can do by first getting help for your own mental health condition.

Whether it's stress, schizophrenia, or depression, we can give you the help you need.

Contact our mental health providers today.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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