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

Antidepressant use in early pregnancy does not increase autism & ADHD risk in kids

Large-scale analysis suggests fewer risks than previously thought from exposure to antidepressant medications in early pregnancy | ScienceDaily

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A study led by Indiana University suggests that mothers’ use of antidepressants during early pregnancy does not increase the risk of their children developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conditions previously associated with these medications.

The research, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant evidence for only a slight increase in risk for premature birth in the infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.

After controlling for multiple other risk factors, the researchers did not find any increased risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among exposed offspring. The risk for premature birth was about 1.3 times higher for exposed offspring compared to unexposed offspring.

Read the full commentary here

The original research abstract is available here

Relationship Between Predictors of Incident Deliberate Self-Harm and Suicide Attempts

Huang, Y-S. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: 31 January 2017

Purpose: Data on the incidence of deliberate self-harm (DSH) and suicide attempts (SAs) are lacking in non-Western adolescents, and no studies have investigated differences in incident DSH and SA worldwide. This study aimed to investigate the incidence rates and relationships between predictors in DSH and SA.

Conclusions: The incidence rates of DSH and SA were similar to those reported in Western countries. The predictors of incident DSH and SA were similar but not identical. Our results highlight the risk factors which should be considered in terms of early identification and intervention among adolescents to prevent suicidality.

Read the full abstract here