The Mindful Policy Group is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of experts and practitioners – backed by a support network spanning America and Europe – who want to ensure that Attachment science is placed at the heart of the nation’s policies relating to children and families.
Doing so will lead to a happier, more harmonious and caring society. It also has the potential to help save billions of pounds in public expenditure through better targeting of resources and services.
Our goals necessitate massive change. The shopping list for starters includes a radical overhaul of the family court system, children’s homes, the penal system, elements of childcare and education and much more.
Already, we have had a significant input into many of these areas, but in some ways, the task has just begun.
Failures in attachment cost almost £46bn a year in Great Britain. This is because fractured families and damaged, broken individuals need massive support via the care, benefit, housing, judicial, penal and health services. The full cost of this breakdown is analysed annually by the Relationship Foundation here.
The current provision of many government services in these areas is based on muddled, disjointed and outmoded thinking that is out of touch with people’s actual psychological needs, and often makes problems worse rather than better.
For example, we spend tens of millions of pounds annually on the family court system. But such intervention comes when the damage has been done to children; dealing with what is often the aftermath of acute breakdown is vastly expensive. A systematic, integrated system of support and education for parents based on Attachment science – provided in schools, doctor’s surgeries and health centres – would help ensure most such cases did not come to court at all.
Attachment science provides for the first time in history a cogent explanation of human development, together with detailed understanding of how the brain works. A fuller explanation is here. Briefly, it shows that if a child receives ‘good-enough’ parenting from a primary caregiver who provides its needs for comfort, sustenance ands security, it will grow up into a largely contented, well-adjusted adult, able to deal equably and mostly successfully with the vicissitudes of life.
But in the early years of life, the brain is still developing, and if care-giving is not adequate –or is abusive – the result is significant life-long damage to the brain. Vital areas that work in the regulation of our moods do not develop properly. The result is that such children fail to develop empathy for others and are desperately engaged in a quest to find ways to obtain the love, security and comfort that has been missing.
At a less serious level, individuals who have had inadequate attachment (who do not suffer major disorders) feel unhappy, uncertain of their needs, unable to express themselves, cannot form stable relationships, and face major anxiety when things go wrong.
In a nutshell, poor parenting leads to most of the recognised mental disorders, and creates individuals who are deeply unhappy and often have the propensity for violence when they become angry over their unmet needs.
At its heart, MPG wants this understanding incorporated into as many policies as possible. And it is working at every level it can to instigate effective change.