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Childhood Adversity: The Impact of Childhood Maltreatment on Mental Health

Explore the connection between childhood adversity and mental health, and enhance your knowledge of mental health in young people.

29,437 enrolled on this course

Image showing a child's hands, covered in paint
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Learn how childhood trauma impacts a child’s beliefs, behaviour, and development

We know half of all mental health conditions emerge before age fourteen, but there’s a need for a greater understanding of young people’s mental wellbeing.

On this course, you’ll improve your understanding of how early adverse experiences can impact a young person’s mental health.

You’ll learn from world leaders in child development and hear from educators in disciplines like neuroscience and educational psychology.

Using evidence-based research, you’ll examine the different ways childhood trauma can influence an individual’s psychological state, educational outcomes and social difficulties.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds [Music] Childhood is an important time in an individual’s life shaping who we become as adults. Research has indicated that a third of children experience acts committed against them by either a parent or caregiver that results in potential harm. Childhood maltreatment is when a person causes physical or emotional harm to a child, such as not responding to their physical or emotional needs. It can significantly impact the child’s mental and physical well-being. Understanding the consequences of childhood maltreatment and discovering ways to support young people is important because negative experiences can significantly impact a young person’s ability to succeed in life.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds Over the past few years scientists have done a great deal of research looking at the consequences of childhood maltreatment and they are now investigating how these types of negative experiences might influence the well-being and brain development of a young person. For example research has shown that maltreatment can lead to changes in both brain structure and brain function, but is it possible that these changes reflect a beneficial adaptation which many of us might show if we were in an environment that posed a threat. Now parents, caregivers and teachers may ask what does this mean for my child or student what can we do to support young people who have experienced such adversity?

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds From clinical research and educational perspectives we’re taking a closer look to explore the impact of early adversity on a person’s well-being. If we can clarify the latest research findings this will help us understand how we might best support vulnerable young people [Music]

What topics will you cover?

Week 1

  • Introduction to the topic of childhood adversity in the form of abuse and neglect and its impact on a young person’s well-being;
  • Clinical perspective on the challenges that young people face who experienced early adversity;
  • Clinical perspective on how this affects the ability to form trusting relationships later in life.

Week 2

  • A neuroscientific perspective on how early adverse experiences can change biological systems such as the brain in an attempt to adapt to the situation;
  • An introduction to the latest research implicating changes in threat processing and memory after childhood maltreatment in young people exposed to adversity;
  • A neuroscientific perspective on how such changes can be seen as adaptations to the adverse situations (Latent Vulnerability).

Week 3

  • An educator’s perspective illuminating the particular challenges and opportunities young people with adverse experiences face in a school setting;
  • An introduction to alternative provision schools and how they can support young people who have experienced adversity.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on how childhood maltreatment may impact on a child’s beliefs and behaviour towards others.
  • Investigate how childhood maltreatment may change neurobiology and behaviour as a way to adapt to a hostile and unpredictable environment.
  • Evaluate how childhood maltreatment may negatively impact on learning success and social development in school and how alternative provision can support young people.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who has an interest in learning about the impact of childhood abuse and neglect on mental wellbeing, as well as child development and psychopathology.

The course will be of particular use to those who work with or care for children who have experienced maltreatment, such as parents and carers, teachers, and social workers.

You do not need to be a professional or have formal education in child development or psychology.

Although the course is suitable for any background or career stage, students and professionals in any healthcare profession will benefit from the insights shared by the course experts.

Who will you learn with?

Dr. Vanessa Puetz, Associate Professor in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at UCL and is the Programme Director of the Pg Dip Child and Adolescent Psychology and Neuroscience in Practice

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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