How to Reduce the Impact of Adversity On Children

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 in Uncategorized by Pat Mesiti | No Comments

My message from day one is to have the courage to prosper – financially, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. Be brave and get ready to grow. Get out there and earn a good living. Treat your body like a sacred temple and become strong and healthy. Meditate and pray and build your spirit and soul. Never stop learning and expand your intellect. Throw away all your grievances, leave the past behind. Forgive others and forgive yourself. I’ve sure written a lot about that one, and we all know that forgiving and recovering from setbacks is a hard one. Recovering from a difficult childhood is especially difficult. No one can wound us quite like our parents! Perhaps for that reason I paid attention to a new mental health research project that wants to support parents bring up their children, so the kids don’t suffer mental health problems in later life. Essentially it is a new project that wants to help parents so they don’t inadvertently hurt their children and make them more vulnerable to depression or anxiety in later life.

I went looking for more information on this project, and found a media release I will share with you.

New research project takes aim at the link between early childhood adversity and adult mental health

A five-year research project has begun investigating how to reduce the impact of adversity on children therefore reducing the likelihood they will grow up to develop depression or anxiety, or be at risk of suicide. The $2.5 million, five-year project, co-funded by Beyond Blue and the National Health and Medical Research Council, will focus on families with young children (zero to eight years) in Wyndham, Melbourne, and Marrickville, Sydney.

Lead researcher, Professor Harriet Hiscock said her team of researchers from 11 Australian institutes and universities will identify and enhance support services for at-risk families. Prof Hiscock said the long-term goal of the research is prevention of, or early intervention in, incidents of childhood trauma or adversity in order to reduce national rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.

“Children who experience stresses or adversities as they grow up are six to 10 times more likely to develop mental health problems later in life,” Prof Hiscock said. “These adversities include a broad range from physical and emotional abuse or neglect, parent mental health problems, harsh parenting, parent substance abuse, through to housing problems and social isolation. By lessening the stresses on young children, we improve their wellbeing now and in the future.”

The Chair of Beyond Blue, Julia Gillard, launched the project at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Ms Gillard said the work was vital because half of all adult mental health issues emerge before the age of 14.

“This program will demonstrate how important it is to invest in the early years because adverse childhood experiences can have life-long implications for mental health, social, academic and employment outcomes.” Ms Gillard said. “Beyond Blue is proud to be co-funding this project with the National Health and Medical Research Council.”

Project study senior, MCRI’s Professor Sharon Goldfeld said previous research has demonstrated the benefits of tackling the childhood origins of mental health problems, but Australian families most in need were still not getting support.

“We don’t yet know exactly what the mix of supports will be,” Prof Goldfeld said. ”But there may be a need for more health, educational and social supports, for example relationship counselling, parenting advice, help to break free from addictions to drugs and alcohol, help to find affordable housing, financial or psychological counselling, access to specialist medical care or access to quality early childhood education and care. Once this is decided, we could deliver these at a one-stop shop like a community health centre and then we will work hand-in-hand with the community to care for families.”

Prof Goldfeld and Prof Hiscock said the final part of the five-year project would be to examine how well the redesigned systems worked so that the models could be adopted by governments and service providers across Australia.

Too many kids struggle

Can you believe that as many as one in three children in Australia live with adversity? What is adversity? It may include family violence, parent mental health problems, family breakdown or bullying or housing problems. According to the media release, adults who have experienced adversity as children are six to 10 times more likely to go on to develop mental health disorders later in life. Australia has services to help with early childhood emotional and behavioural problems that turn into later mental health disorders, but too many Australian children miss out on help.

In Australia lots of funding has been given to adults and young people with mental health problems, but the number of Australians with mental health problems is not falling. Maybe it is time Australia focussed on getting more help for kids. For ‘at-risk’ people, help may need to come earlier in life, before mental health problems occur in adulthood.

Let’s support future generations

I really hope this new project works. I hope parents and children get the support they need so more kids grow up with strong mental health and don’t need to devote their lives to healing themselves. I had a tough childhood and I know how hard I had to fight to come to terms with that and prosper.

I hope the counsellors, teachers, nurses, doctors and social workers reach out and support parents so they can better care for their children. I hope they set up community centres where parents can go to get help for their kids and also their own mental health, gambling, legal problems, housing problems – the whole range of challenges we face as adults.

I want every one of you to prosper. For many of us that is going to mean overcoming the hurts of our childhood and past, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could protect future generations from hurt and just see children go from strength to strength as they grow? Let’s work towards making that happen.

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ABOUT PAT MESITI

Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.

 

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