DCP Faculty for Children, Young People and their Families

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Consultation on mental health services

Commons report on child mental health

2016 Children's Mental Health Week - CYPF full statement

The British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology welcomes the renewed emphasis on the psychological well-being of our children and young people which Children’s Mental Health Week brings and the opportunity to highlight the vital importance of prevention of and early intervention in psychological difficulties. We have previously discussed evidence from our members showing a change in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) towards mental illness models. This is resulting in children presenting with psychological distress and little resilience being denied access to specialist skills on the grounds that they do not present with a 'mental illness'. This is a retrograde and stigmatising conceptualisation of psychological distress in childhood and has arisen as a means of rationing services due to budgetary pressures.

There is a growing body of scientific knowledge about how children can grow into resilient adults. Resilience can be defined as successful adaptation in the presence of adversity and it is an ongoing and interactive process between the child and the risk or protective factors in their environment. It is not a set of stable or innate characteristics and will be altered by changes in the child’s world and in the child as they develop and grow. As psychologists we are concerned that resilience as a scientific concept and the evidence of how it can be supported is increasingly being confused with the moral concept of “ character” and “ character building”.

We welcome too the emphasis in Childrens Mental Health Week on increasing access to high quality psychological support in schools. This is often described as the provision of school counselling but counselling, particularly for an individual child or young person, is only one of the types of intervention that needs to be available. There will be times when it is not the appropriate intervention model depending on the presenting difficulties and on the age of the child and it is crucial that all professionals working to support the emotional needs of children and young people do so with reference to the existing evidence base across a range of models. It is vital that good quality psychological assessment is available in schools which will lead to a formulation of what is needed in a particular case and the best evidence based treatment at the right level of specialist help.

It is also vital that work with the individual child or young person is not done in isolation from the family and/or carers and that it does not detract from efforts to change the child’s circumstances. There is increasing evidence about the direct impact of social and economic factors like poverty and deprivation, poor and insecure housing and social isolation on families and on the child’s psychological development. The impact of factors like maltreatment, poor attachment and trauma may not be immediately obvious to adults around the child who may see the difficulties as primarily behavioural. Good quality assessment and formulation is needed to identify the issues for any individual child and then intervention needs to be targeted at how the historical and social factors can be addressed in the whole family to bring about lasting change.

Finally the role of schools and the staff in them must be considered as part of any positive psychological interventions for children and young people. The recommendations of “Future in Mind” on the training of teachers in psychological health through initial teacher training and use of the MindEd resources is a valuable way forward. Teachers also need significant support through access to specialist advice and consultation to enable them not just to help individual students in difficulty but to implement approaches which make the whole school a setting which supports and values psychological well being

There is more detailed information available on understanding psychological well being in children and young people and how this can be helped at all levels from prevention of difficulties, to early intervention and specialist services in the Child and Family Clinical Psychology Review “ What good looks like in psychological services for children, young people and their families”. This also contains a chapter on what is needed to provide good quality psychological interventions in schools together with examples of where this is being done.

Available to download for free from the BPSShop.

 

We are interested in hearing from anyone who wishes to submit a paper for the next issue of the Child and Family Clinical Psychology Review.  The theme is: Involvement and Participation The aim is to highlight the breadth of service user and carer participation within child... more
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Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Division of Clinical Psychology, Faculty for Children, Young People and their Families will be held on Tuesday 26 September 2017, 1.30pm at Hilton Hotel, Drake Way, Reading, RG2 0GQ. Therefore nominations are invited for:... more
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