Plans to help wellbeing of the young
In February , Barnardo’s Scotland took part in Children’s Mental Health Week. The theme was “find your brave”. Each day, we all take small, brave steps. We open up about how we feel. We ask for help. We try something new and unfamiliar which could easily go wrong Life is a series of small, brave steps.
Barnardo’s is the UK’s biggest and oldest children’s charity, with over 150 years’ experience in improving the lives of vulnerable children and young people. Yet our world is often one of brave, incremental steps too.
In Scotland we have been working on a range of other initiatives which are coming to a conclusion soon, aimed at helping support young people’s mental health and wellbeing. In February we will publish an important report on Supervision in Education. This is about putting in place a system of mental and emotional support for teachers and other educational professionals. School staff do a great deal to help and support children who are struggling with significant trauma and emotional challenges. We owe it to those working in education to ensure they have space to reflect and deal with emotional overload. The more we can help them, the more they can help our children and young people.
In keeping with this theme, in March we will launch a film – developed in partnership with NHS Health Scotland – on the importance of relationships within education. Good quality relationships are vital for wellbeing, growth and health, especially when a child has experienced adversity or trauma. Education staff – and we mean everyone from the head teacher to the receptionist – are experts in building such relationships within their schools. Yet they don’t always realise or recognise the significance of this. We want to help schools explore and celebrate the things they do so well.
Also in March we will publish our next “Care in Mind” paper looking at the mental health and wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers. This will explore the delivery of health assessments for looked after children, and builds on the first paper in the series which looked at access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and other models of support.
And March also sees publication of the next quarterly statistics on waiting times for CAMHS. We will take the opportunity to question whether the focus on waiting times for specialist services as a key outcome measure is distracting us from thinking more innovatively about potential solutions to the problems facing our children and young people.
We are also looking forward to the launch of our new Creative Power Podcast, showcasing children and young people’s participation in our policy and influencing work. This gives a platform to the creative talents and social concerns of children and young people currently supported by Barnardo’s Scotland services. Our first episode is being created jointly with young people from three regions of Scotland, and features some brave (that word again), hard-hitting content related to mental health and wellbeing.
At Barnardo’s Scotland, we see children and young people demonstrate their bravery every day. Ideally children shouldn’t have to worry about anything other than being children. But life’s not always that simple. To make a difference, it’s us and our partners across Scotland who need to be brave, and stand up for children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
David Ferguson is Assistant Director, Policy and Influencing at Barnardo’s Scotland
0131 446 7000