Mental Health Concerns: The Unintended Consequences of Foster Care (Pt 2)

February 14, 2020 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
black and white picture of a young woman looking sad. Her eyes are closed and she's holding her head.

Hi there and welcome back. We’ve been talking about mental health concerns among foster youth, and how being placed in the foster system can actually be more detrimental to your health because of the trauma of forced separation. According to Preserving Families, Securing Futures (SAFY), “Of the 400,000-plus children in foster care in America, it’s estimated that nearly 80 percent suffer from a significant mental health issue. That’s nearly four to five times the incidence that’s found within the general population.”

In our previous article on this topic, we looked at two mental health conditions that plague foster youth, namely Depression and Anxiety Disorders. Moving on here are a couple more mental health conditions that kids in foster care sometimes struggle with. Although these two are less common, they still affect more foster kids than kids in the general population.

Reactive Attachment Disorder:

Although Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is less common than many conditions, it’s one that is more common among foster children and children who have been severely neglected. Babies and toddlers who aren’t given enough stimulation and are deprived of opportunities to bond with their caregivers (which happens when a child is bumped from home to home in the system) they develop an inability to form lasting and meaningful bonds with others. RAD is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • An inability to form bonds or connect with others
  • Anger issues
  • A constant desire for control
  • Fear of being close to others and lack of trust
  • Poor sense of self-worth
  • A strong dislike of physical contact with others
  • An underdeveloped conscience 

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition characterized by difficulties regulating emotion. People diagnosed with BPD experience their emotions very intensely and for long periods of time, and they have little to no control over their emotional state. They also struggle to return to a neutral baseline after experiencing an intense emotional state. Although genetics and brain function play a role in BPD, trauma also contributes to the diagnosis, making foster kids much more susceptible to this condition. Common symptoms of BPD are:

  • Distorted and unstable self-image, affecting moods, values, opinions, goals, and relationships.
  • Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes (examples include excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse, or reckless driving)
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family
  • Unstable personal relationships that tend to alternate between idealizing a person and then devaluing them.
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger
  • Periods of intense depression, anxiety or irritability, lasting from hours to days
  • Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts

Kids do better when they’re kept together with their families

Children who are taken away from their families and caregivers almost always struggle with numerous mental health issues, many of which affect them for their entire lives. For this reason, we cannot stress enough the importance of fighting to keep your kids with you when CPS tries to break up your family. So if there’s any chance a CPS worker may try to remove your children, call 866 766 5245 immediately! Our aggressive and hard-working child abuse defense attorneys have extensive experience working to defend Michigan parents against criminal charges and overblown CPS. We’re available 24/7, and we can help!