Yesterday as a part of Child Protection Week Prof Ben Mathews, Prof Daryl Higgins, and Dr Divna Haslam shared some early ACMS findings about the link between child maltreatment, specifically neglect and exposure to domestic violence (EDV), and clinical diagnosable mental health outcomes such as Major Depressive Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

ACMS data shows there are clear links between neglect and EDV and later mental health. Children who experience maltreatment are more likely to meet clinical mental health diagnoses by age 24. The relationships are even stronger when multiple types of maltreatment are included indicating that experiencing different types of maltreatment is likely to have even more adverse impacts. There were also some gender differences.

Given the clear links between maltreatment and mental health outcomes, targeting child maltreatment must be a part of a broader approach to mental health in Australia. The productivity commission report into mental health found mental health costs Australia 200-220 billion dollars annually. Part of this could be prevented if we, as a society, invested in better prevention, detection, and intervention for child maltreatment.

Stay tuned for more data early next year. In the meantime here are the slides from yesterday’s webinar. NAPCAN will also be sharing the entire presentation online so check out their website.

Many thanks to NAPCAN Australia for hosting this webinar and for the work they do in our community. Like NAPCAN we believe every child, in every community, deserves a fair go.

Banner image used with permission from NAPCAN Australia.