Mental Health Concerns: The Unintended Consequences of Foster Care (Pt 1)

February 12, 2020 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
A young woman sitting in a window ledge. She is sitting in darkness and looks sad.

There are countless studies showing that children placed in foster care suffer from emotional trauma as a result of being forcibly removed from their families and siblings. Even if the care they received in those environments wasn’t the best (and in some cases was actually detrimental to their wellbeing) they still struggle and suffer as a result of losing their families. They grieve the loss of the familiar and often experience a wide array of behavioral disturbances and mental health problems as a result of that loss, many of which can make caring for them quite challenging.


Depression is extremely common among foster youth, as they are processing not only the abuse or neglect that led to them being placed in foster care, but also the loss of their families and loved ones. Depression can lead to all kinds of problems, both psychologically and physically, and if left untreated can lead to self-harming behaviors and even suicide. Youth in foster care who are suffering from depression are likely to exhibit these symptoms:

  • Feeling down, despondent, or hopeless on a regular basis
  • Trouble sleeping, either falling and staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Appetite issues – either eating too much or having no appetite
  • Thought of self-harm, or suicidal ideations
  • Poor sense of self-worth, low self-esteem
  • Lack of interest in anything around them, or in life in general
  • Irritability, restlessness, and social isolation

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is part of the body’s natural response to stress. But there’s a difference between temporary anxiety in the face of a problem or stressful situation, and the near-constant state of worry, fear, and anxiety about all kinds of things. At that point, it becomes a disorder and can interfere with your ability to function in daily life. Kids in foster care often struggle with anxiety disorders as a result of the trauma they’ve suffered, perhaps at the hands of an abusive caregiver, and then again when being forcibly separated from their family and placed with strangers. Symptoms of anxiety disorders can include:

  • Sleep problems, like difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up from sleep
  • A regular feeling of being on edge and easily upset
  • Feelings of tightness in your chest and difficulty breathing when faced with stressful situations (these often lead to full-blown panic attacks)
  • Difficulty concentrating, or an inability to control your thoughts 
  • Ongoing muscle tensions
  • Feelings of impending doom, or being out of control
  • Sweating, heart palpitations, or shaking 

Kids are better off when they’re kept with their families!

Join us next time for a look at a few more common mental health concerns that kids in foster care deal with regularly. Until then, if you’re facing the loss of your kids to the foster system because of child abuse or neglect allegations, don’t delay! Call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our aggressive and hard-working child abuse defense attorneys have extensive experience working to defend Michigan parents against criminal charges and claims made by CPS. We’re available 24/7, and we can help!