Professor Tony Jorm calls for national action on adverse childhood experiences.
According to Professors Tony Jorm (Centre for Mental Health) and Roger Mulder (University of Otago, New Zealand), governments need to be doing much more to prevent mental health problems. In a recent article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, they argue that adverse childhood experiences are the major risk factors for a wide of mental health problems. These experiences include physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, poverty, loss of a parent, domestic violence, serious physical illness, and exposure to parental mental illness, substance misuse and criminal behaviour. They review a number of interventions that could be undertaken to reduce these adverse childhood experiences. They conclude that: “The importance of early adversity has never been clearer with numerous studies consistently demonstrating that adverse childhood experiences have major detrimental effects on mental and physical health throughout people’s lives. This is a global issue on which mental health professionals, consumers and carers need to unite and work with the broader human services sector to demand action…. It may be our best chance of emulating the success of public health action to prevent chronic physical diseases and thereby reduce the large global burden of mental disorders.”