Mental Health Essay

699 words - 3 pages ✓ Expert Reviewed

The incline risk for mental health problems among young children in foster care traces back to before birth. The prenatal period is one of rapid growth shaped directly or indirectly by the surrounding environment (S. Lynch personal communication, September 20, 2013). “The brain is malleable because it develops partly as a result of the preprogrammed instructions encoded in genes, and partly as a result of exposure to the outside environment” (Kupfer, Beal, & Bloom, 2006, p. 65-66). Genes are instrumental in determining the type of brain cells that develop and which neurotransmitters are involved; the connection that neurons make depends on responses/stimuli from the surrounding environment such as sound and stress (Kupfer et al., 2006). These pathways are vital for biological, complex thinking and social functioning’s; prenatal interruption in the development of the pathways, for instance through exposure to drugs and alcohol, hampers the brain development of the child (S. Lynch personal communication, September 20, 2013. These exposures create negative and stressful situations of neglect and or abuse that are commonly found among young children in foster care (Cooper et al., 2010; Wotherspoon, Laberge, Rafaat, et al. 2008). The weaving and interaction of pathways for the creation of the brain determine the development of behaviors, disorders and traits, therefore are inherently linked to ones’ mental health status (Kupfer et al., 2006). To emphasize, Kupfer et al. (2006) makes the analogy of the brain being a seedling requiring the right mix of sun, rain and nutrients in order to reach its full potential of becoming a tree. Hence, the amalgamation of the pathways for brain growth becomes the core of a child’s mental health.
The early years of a child’s life post birth in addition to prenatal factors are instrumental in the creation of overall mental health. Drawing from pediatric experience, these particular years are crucial and sensitive periods for development. Physical, psychosocial, and cognitive foundations are made during these early years as the brain’s plasticity allows for changes to occur and knowledge to be absorbed at a fast pace (Etebarian,...

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