account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upawarded books calendar close-modal closedate delete document education emailevent facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay plusplyr-pause plyr-play post preview projectpublication reports resourcesearch-bigsearch series share star-full star-open startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

In conversation with…Dr Barry Coughlan and Dr Robbie Duschinsky, University of Cambridge

Child maltreatment and mental health

Join us as we talk in depth to two researchers who have led the largest ever, most up-to-date study on the associations between child maltreatment and mental health outcomes.

Published by the University of Cambridge in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, the study used a best-evidence synthesis research methodology (known as an umbrella review). It analysed 98 quantitative studies from across the world, which in total included more than 11 million children.

During this event, Barry Coughlan and Robbie Duschinsky from the University of Cambridge will present and discuss the research findings, which include:

  • It has sometimes been assumed that particular forms of maltreatment are more detrimental to children and young people’s mental health than others. But in fact the review found that different kinds of maltreatment (e.g. physical abuse, neglect and domestic violence) have a comparable impact on mental health difficulties.
  • The review found that child maltreatment has comparable associations with all measured mental health and developmental outcomes. Children and young people’s needs are therefore likely to span different traditional psychiatric (or diagnostic) classifications, and may not fit into the current assessments and treatment pathways used by CAMHS and other mental health services where these are organised by diagnosis or category.

Chaired by Lisa Harker, Director of Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, with reflections from Senior Family Division Liaison Judge Mr Justice Keehan, the event will include a panel discussion with the researchers, with questions from the audience.

We will explore how the complex needs of young people who have experienced maltreatment might be better addressed in relation to this new evidence. We will cover the implications for social care and mental health policy and practice, including whether children and young people’s needs are being missed or inadequately identified under existing systems and processes, and the benefits of a more transdiagnostic or person-centred approach to organising services.

The event will be of interest to lawyers, judges, Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru officers and social workers.

Questions are welcomed before and during the discussion.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory aims to find and fill knowledge gaps, highlight areas where change will have the biggest impact and foster collaboration to make that change happen. Find out more here.


  • Headshot of Lisa Harker.
    Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Headshot of Robbie Duschinsky
    Dr Robbie Duschinsky
    Professor of Social Science and Health
    University of Cambridge
  • Headshot of Barry Coughlan
    Dr Barry Coughlan
    Deputy Head of the Applied Social Science Group
    University of Cambridge