The problems associated with insecure attachment impose a significant burden on society. Children who have insecure, especially disorganised, attachment are at much higher risk of social and mental health difficulties including aggressive behaviours. By early adulthood, individuals who were very aggressive as young children cost society 10 times more than their peers and have a mortality rate almost 10 times higher, in part due to increased risk of suicide and violent behaviour, but also due to physical problems such as coronary heart pathologies.
The recently published European Union Roadmap for the Future of Child Health Research (www.childhealth research.eu) has stated that “Determining how [mental health] can be measured adequately in [young children] to enable identification of those with good mental health vs. those who are at risk for poor mental health is an important task for the research community. Early detection of problem areas is crucial, and therefore, it is essential that monitoring systems are established based on sound indicators”. If we can screen the population to identify individuals with insecure attachment early on, they can be treated and save health and social services large amounts of time and resources. However, there are no good methods of measuring attachment across populations at present: the SAM project will provide the tools to do this.