Adoption UK Children's Mental Health Report

This report sets out 3 steps to give traumatised children an equal chance of good mental health.

Children who have experienced trauma, such as adopted children, are much more likely to suffer mental ill health.

We’re calling for governments to focus on these 3 steps: intervene early; embed mental health support into frontline services; strengthen the support for the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Read our full report here:

Why is this important?

Adopted children have an unfair start in life, and we know that the impact on their mental and physical health can be lasting.

In recent research by AUK, almost half of adopted children had social, emotional and mental health needs. More than 40% of adopted young people had involvement with mental health services. A quarter had diagnosed learning difficulties, while sensory problems and speech, language and communication problems affected more than one in five.

Neurological disorders are common amongst adopted children. To give just two examples:

According to the National Autistic Society (2019), the UK prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is thought to be around 1%. Among adopted children it is 8 times higher.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a range of conditions caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. People with FASD can have a wide range of physical and mental difficulties, especially with planning, memory, attention, impulsivity, coordination and social communication.

It is generally estimated that the UK prevalence is 3-5%. FASD affects up to 75% of adopted children.

Read more about the physical and mental health of adopted children in these AUK reports:

                                   FASD Diagnostic Challenges and Recommendations

    We have a clear set of recommendations for governments, based on our research:  

    • Ensure every adopted child has access to timely diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
    • Ensure every adopted child can access excellent, free mental health support when they need it.