More mental health support for children in care

Upset child

Published by May Norman at 6:30am 22nd February 2019.

North Yorkshire to pilot mental health support for children in care

  • A new pilot project to support the mental health of looked after children in North Yorkshire's been launched.
  • It aims to limit the number of appointments youngsters have with multiple professionals.
  • It's a two-year council project which will assese children entering care at the right time, by the right people.

A grant will be awarded for a pilot project to improve the way children and young people's mental health needs are met as they enter care.

The pilot project will run for two years and will aim to ensure children entering care are assessed at the right time, by the right people, with a focus on their individual needs and experiences.

It will look to reduce the number of appointments children attend with multiple professionals and make use of the child's existing relationships in meeting their emotional wellbeing needs.

The news has been welcomed by Shannon Downing, 22, who was recently made chair of the Young People's Council, a youth voice group for those who have experienced care in North Yorkshire.

Shannon was in care between the ages of 12 and 16, and is involved in the project. She said she felt the main issue for many looked after children and their mental health was having one person consistently involved with them.

Shannon said:

"The main thing is having a person who stays with you throughout. 

"Having lots of different faces can be quite distressing for some people, especially if they have anxiety or different mental health issues.

"The other important issue is getting the right support for each individual; getting them on the right track and making them feel happier."

mental health - shannon
Image: From left, Vicky Metheringham, North Yorkshire County Council’s head of Looked After Children, permanence and leaving care, Lydia Bailey, vice chair of Young People’s Council (YPC), Shannon Downing, chair of YPC and Dr Clare Snodgrass, consultant clinical psychologist with PIPA / Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust

The central Government funding has been awarded to North Yorkshire County Council to trial a new framework which should ultimately improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of looked after children and young people.

North Yorkshire is one of nine local authorities in the UK to receive a share of £650,000 to trial a new approach to undertaking mental health assessments. This project aims to develop a shared stance and language across all key people involved in the young person's life with them being at the centre.

Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for the Children and Young People's Service, said being part of the pilot will help them better understand children's wellbeing needs from the very beginning and prevent mental health issues escalating.

Cllr Sanderson said:

"We listened to young people when they asked us to help support their mental health needs.

"Being part of this project is a great opportunity to ensure each child gets help that is right for them, at the right time. As we roll out this pilot, we will continue to listen to young people every step of the way."

Shannon has made it her mission to ensure the experiences and opinions of looked after children are heard and both positive and negatives experiences of care are understood.

As well as being involved with the Young People's Council, she is currently working on a project in London for care leavers, called National Coram Voice.

Shannon added:

"If this pilot is successful, then I just want for young people who want it, to have the support they need. That's a big tick in the box."

The money was awarded to the council’s Children and Families Service (CFS) who will partner with Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust on the project.

The pilot scheme will be one of a number of initiatives run by North Yorkshire's Children and Young People's Service to ensure more creativity and flexibility in meeting children's mental health needs and improve wellbeing.

The council already has psychologists in social work teams through the Psychologically Informed Partnership Approach (PIPA).

North Yorkshire is known nationally for its innovation and drive in making a positive difference to the lives of the county's most vulnerable children, young people and their families.

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