- 11 May 2017
- 5 min read
Raising standards to address mental health in children
Mental health issues affect 1 in 10 children generally and over 70% of children in care. SCIE wants more to be done for those children in care.
Writing in the Guardian, Tony Hunter, Chief Executive for Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), welcomes steps taken to ensure better mental health for children generally.
But he explains that more needs to be done to address the issue of mental health problems amongst children in care.
“It’s good news that mental health in general, and children’s mental health in particular, is being given increasing attention by the media and greater consideration by policymakers. Yet the mental health and wellbeing of children in care is too often marginalised in these debates. More than 70% of children in care have been diagnosed with mental health problems.” (Ref: www.guardian.co.uk)
A House Of Commons Education Committee Report from 2016 concluded that: "The mental health of looked-after children is significantly poorer than that of their peers, with almost half of children and young people in care meeting the criteria for a psychiatric disorder. In comparison, one in ten non-looked-after children and young people suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.” (Ref: www.publications.parliament.uk)
In an effort to combat this SCIE, along with an expert group of experienced professionals, has developed a project. Commissioned by the Department of Health and Education, it is hoped the project leads to suggestions towards changes in the assessment of young children.
Supported by Government Theresa May pledged last week to: “Rip up the 1983 act and introduce in its place a new law... [she will]... Roll out mental health support to every school in the country, ensure that mental health is taken far more seriously in the workplace, and raise standards of care.” (Ref: www.guardian.co.uk)
Working with the NSPCC, King’s College London produced a report (‘Mapping Mental Health Services for Looked-after Children in London aged 0-5 years’) highlighting:
”The consequences of developing mental health problems early in life are serious, with almost half of mental health problems experienced by all adults (not just those who have been looked after) pre-dating back to their time as a child.” (Ref: www.nspcc.org.uk)
Generally, children experience a lot more physical, mental and emotional changes than adults. They’re learning how to cope, adapt and relate to others, with each child developing at a different pace.
Although there are hereditary and biological causes of mental health, children in care are more susceptible to psychological and environmental trauma. (Ref: www.webmd.com)
Recognising the importance of thorough assessments, by October 2017, the expert group is looking to report their final recommendations. This will include clear guidance for professionals, and more information for children in care.
The progression by SCIE is imperative as the group is establishing practical outcomes with milestones to transform the approach to mental health services for young people in care.