Medicine, mental health and child welfare: "Three different worlds that need to amalgamate"

Fam Syst Health. 2021 Sep;39(3):535-538. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000647.


The past 50 years have witnessed a dramatic change in the morbidity and mortality of many (if not most) pediatric diseases. The primary driver for this improvement has been the billions of dollars invested in research by the National Institutes of Health and hundreds of not-for-profit advocacy groups that have raised awareness and money to support research, treatment, prevention, and advocacy for their cause. Child abuse and neglect is a glaring exception, with no significant improvement in mortality from physical abuse and neglect over the past 50 years. Furthermore, child protection in the U.S., which has been the responsibility of the state and county Child Welfare Departments, have been struggling for at least 30 years and have no data on the quality and outcomes of their services to children and families. This article discusses some of the past failures to address the issue, and suggests that for progress to be made, health, mental health, and child welfare professionals have to be able to work with each other in a way that allows child and families to be free of abuse and neglect. It builds on the recent efforts to embed mental health services and professionals in primary care practices. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse* / prevention & control
  • Child Welfare
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Services*