How mental health can be affected at various stages of development

Children’s mental health will be affected by different factors and in different ways as they develop. Here, the Centre for Mental Health summarises  some of these key factors, taken from their report Missed Opportunities.

0-4 years

Good mental health, wellbeing and cognitive development in under five year olds is shaped very early on from the first spark of life in the womb and is affected by multiple complex genetic and environmental factors.

5-10 years

Schools are the biggest single influence on a child’s mental health after their family. Schools can either enhance or undermine a child’s mental health and it is essential they know how to help.

11-15 years

Adolescence is a period of significant neurodevelopmental change for most children. While adolescence and early adulthood are a period of our best physical health, it is also the peak period for the development of mental health problems.

16-25 years

75% of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem will have experienced their first symptoms by the age of 24. Evidence shows that common mental health conditions that first emerge in adolescence have a higher chance of persistence into young adult years if not quickly treated and contained.

More detail at Centre for Mental Health


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