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Kids with Backpacks


Our research has confirmed the importance of early life experiences in contributing to young people's emotional and mental health. Specifically, we have found that early experiences of parental attachment relationships and adversity, trauma and bullying are associated with young people's likelihood of reporting psychotic-like experiences. These experiences also impact on young people's self-concept, emotional well-being, mental health and educational functioning. Specifically, we have found that young people who experience insecure attachment relationships, adversity and early trauma are at higher risk of psychotic-like experiences, poor mental health and low self-esteem than children who do not report these early life experiences. Conversely, secure attachment relationships, high self-esteem and low levels of childhood adversity are all protective against emotional and mental health difficulties and psychotic-like experiences.

Based on our findings (and supported by other research) psychotic-like experiences in young people may therefore be an indicator of insecure attachment relationships, early adverse life experiences and/or mental health difficulties. This is not the case for all young people. For many, psychotic-like experiences are temporary and not a source of distress or concern. However, for others, repeated psychotic-like experiences that are connected to their mood states and a source of distress, may be a sign that they are struggling with their mental health and their sense of self. The combination of mental health difficulties and psychotic-like experiences also places some young people at higher risk of educational and vocational difficulties. These may be linked to some interesting findings we are uncovering relating to neurodevelopment and neurocognition

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