Mental Health Issues More Prevalent When WA Children Are Exposed To DFV

New WA research

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Children who grow up in domestic and family violent homes are five times more likely to utilise mental health services by the time they turn 18, a new study has found.

The report by ANROWS and led by a team from the University of Western Australia, also revealed those with no known experiences of violence will seek help just 16 per cent of the time.

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On average, children were six years old when police or health recorded domestic or family violence in the home but were 12 years old when they received a health service.

It revealed WA children were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health illnesses if exposed to domestic and family violence.

They were also twice as likely to have a substance use disorder.

ANROWS CEO Padma Raman said every child had and deserved the right to live in a safe home environment.

“Children experiencing domestic and family violence need access to services that are holistic and able to address multiple needs,” she said.

“Collaboration is the key to effective care — and to avoiding the potentially negative impacts of multiple services working in disconnected ways with children and families.”

Data collected from WA Police and WA Health contributed to formulating the report which aimed to identify the mental health service use and diagnoses of children exposed to domestic and family violence in WA between 1987 and 2016.

16,356 children who experienced domestic and family violence was compared to a group of 41,996 children with no record of experiencing such behaviours.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth told the West Australian reducing violence against women and children was a first-order priority for the Federal Government.

 “This important research. . .highlights the intergenerational impact of family and domestic violence,” she said.

“Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment and free from family and domestic violence.

“(Our) Government, along with our state and territory counterparts, will explore ways to reduce the impact of family and domestic violence on children.”

If you, or anyone you know needs help with domestic and/or family violence, there are many resources available:

1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

If you are in need of immediate assistance, call Triple Zero (000)

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19 July 2022

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