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Brain Sci. 2017, 7(10), 133; doi:10.3390/brainsci7100133

A Diagnosis of Denial: How Mental Health Classification Systems Have Struggled to Recognise Family Violence as a Serious Risk Factor in the Development of Mental Health Issues for Infants, Children, Adolescents and Adults

1
Wb Training and Consultancy, P.O. Box 750, Moonee Ponds 3039, Victoria, Australia
2
La Trobe University, Bundoora 3086, Victoria, Australia
3
Mental Health, The Royal Children’s Hospital, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia
4
The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Flemington Road, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia
5
Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne; Level 2 West Building, The Royal Children’s Hospital, 50 Flemington Street, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 10 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Illness in Children)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [297 KB, uploaded 19 October 2017]

Abstract

Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) routinely overlook assessing for, and providing treatment to, infants and children living with family violence, despite family violence being declared endemic across the globe. As contemporary neuro-developmental research recognises the harm of being exposed to early relational trauma, key international diagnostic texts such as the DSM-5 and ICD-10 struggle to acknowledge or appreciate the relational complexities inherent in addressing family violence and its impacts during childhood. These key texts directly influence thinking, funding and research imperatives in adult services as well as CAMHS, however, they rarely reference family violence. Their emphasis is to pathologise conditions over exploring causality which may be attributable to relational violence. Consequently, CAMHS can miss important indicators of family violence, misdiagnose disorders and unwittingly, not address unacceptable risks in the child’s caregiving environment. Notwithstanding urgent safety concerns, ongoing exposure to family violence significantly heightens the development of mental illness amongst children. CAMHS providers cannot and should not rely on current diagnostic manuals alone. They need to act now to see family violence as a significant and important risk factor to mental health and to treat its impacts on children before these develop into enduring neurological difficulties. View Full-Text
Keywords: infants; children; adolescents; family violence; mental health treatment; diagnostic classification of disorders; DSM-5; ICD-10; DC:0-5; CAMHS infants; children; adolescents; family violence; mental health treatment; diagnostic classification of disorders; DSM-5; ICD-10; DC:0-5; CAMHS
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bunston, W.; Franich-Ray, C.; Tatlow, S. A Diagnosis of Denial: How Mental Health Classification Systems Have Struggled to Recognise Family Violence as a Serious Risk Factor in the Development of Mental Health Issues for Infants, Children, Adolescents and Adults. Brain Sci. 2017, 7, 133.

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