Children and young people’s mental health: focus group research

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in England has published findings from focus group research carried out to understand the views of children and young people, parents and carers, and professionals on the proposals in ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper’.

The student insight report, carried out by Young Minds, looks at the views of 55 young people aged 11-18 across England. Findings show that they were broadly in favour of the core three proposals but felt that there needed to be an additional focus within the new approach around causes of ill mental health amongst young people.

Youth Access looked at the views of 11-15 year olds and 16-25 year olds. Findings include: participants were generally positive about the proposals; they had concerns that the needs of many groups of young people would not be met in its current form including those not willing or able to access support in a school setting; many felt that the green paper did not go far enough in acknowledging some of the root causes of young people’s mental health issues.

The National Children’s Bureau reported on the views of over 80 professionals and parents. Findings include: the green paper proposals were broadly welcomed but that further consideration should be given to ensuring children in the early years develop well emotionally and are prepared for the transition into school; and better continuity of care for young people with mental health conditions transitioning to adult services.

Working together to safeguard children: statutory guidance myth busting

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme has published guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) to clarify to relevant parts of the English statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.  They discovered that some parts of the guidance acted as a barrier to good practice and outcomes for children and families and can be made clearer, e.g. making it clear that family assessments of risk of harm faced by children are permissible as long as the unique needs of individual children are considered.

Topics covered include: individual child assessments; return home interviews; social workers for foster carers and children with long term foster placements; social workers for children in staying put; frequency of visits for social workers; and fostering and adoption panels.

The responses have been agreed by the Department for Education and their lawyers in consultation with Ofsted.

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Council for Internet Safety in the UK

The government has announced plans to establish a new UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS), which will extend the scope of the current UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS).  It will be a new collaborative forum through which government, the tech community and the third sector work together to ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.

Priority areas of focus for the council will include:

  • online harm experienced by children such as cyberbullying and sexual exploitation;
  • radicalisation and extremism;
  • violence against women and girls;
  • hate crime and hate speech;
  • and forms of discrimination against groups protected under the Equality Act.

The Government has opened the application process to appoint members of the UKCIS Executive Board (the closing date is 03 September 2018).

How to safely use ‘Questions’ on Instagram

Recently Instagram introduced ‘Questions’ – the latest feature onto the photo sharing app. Users are now able to invite their followers to ask them questions, which they can then publicly answer.  The UK Safer Internet Centre has published a blog describing things to be aware of.

What are questions on Instagram?

Questions can be added once you have taken a photo or video that you want to share on your story. This is done by selecting the poll sticker from the stickers tab  .

You can then position the questions sticker onto your story and invite your followers to ask you a question.

Your followers ask you a question by typing into the answer box in your sticker, and then sending this to you to answer.

To see the questions you have been asked, swipe up to open the viewers list for that part of your story.

Are the questions anonymous?

There has been some confusion recently about whether the question you ask on Instagram stories are anonymous.

Instagram questions are not anonymous, the person who you sent the question to will know that it is you who asked them. However, if the person you’re sending a question to decides to share your question publicly, your username will be removed.

Remember that anonymous or not there is a real person behind the Instagram account that you are asking questions to. It’s important to act respectfully and kindly on this service and any other question platform you use.

Who can see my answers?

You can choose how you answer the questions you have been asked. When you click to reply to a question you are taken to a camera screen, where you can take a picture that will be the background to your answer. Once you have typed your reply to the question, you can choose whether to answer privately or publicly.

  • Privately: you can choose to send your answer directly to the person who asked you in a private message.
  • Publicly: you can chose to post your answer onto your story so that all of your followers can see it.  It’s worth noting if you have a public account anyone who views your story will be able to see your answer.

You can also choose not to answer any questions you have been asked. You can delete any questions in the question viewer. If anyone asks you a question that is inappropriate or makes you feel uncomfortable you can always go and speak to an adult you trust, and report or block the user.

Things to remember

Whilst these questions can be used positively to find out more about your friends, there is potential for this feature to be misused. There have been reports of people using the feature to ask upsetting or insulting questions, especially if they think they are under an anonymous guise.

Remember that whoever you are asking questions of is a real person. Before you send a negative or mean comment, think about the effect that receiving this will have on a person.

Our advice

  • Think about how your question will make someone feel.
  • Remember that they will be able to see what you post.  If your question will hurt someone’s feelings it’s better not to post it.
  • Report inappropriate questions.
  • If you see a story or question that you think breaks Instagram’s terms of service you can report it to Instagram.
  • Speak to someone you trust.
  • Speak to a parent, carer or teacher if you are upset or concerned about any question you have been asked. You can also contact Childline by calling 0800 1111.

Child trafficking in the UK

Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT) has published a snapshot report providing an overview of the state of modern slavery affecting children in the UK.

The report includes latest statistics and recent policy developments and makes 10 recommendations to the UK Government including: reforming the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for children to ensure that decisions about whether or not a child has been trafficked are made by trained multi-agency child protection professionals rather than by central government; improving data collection on child trafficking; and providing a comprehensive, rights-based independent legal guardianship (advocacy) service for all separated and trafficked children and young people up to a minimum of 21 years old.

Click here to download the report.

Anti-bullying strategies for young people

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published advice and guidance for schools and education authorities on how to address bullying in schools with a focus on using data to improve anti-bullying strategies. The guide covers four main areas:

  • creating an anti-bullying culture in schools;
  • finding ways for students and staff to report bullying incidents;
  • finding ways to record and review the data on bullying;
  • communicating the anti-bullying messages.

Each area contains a set of questions for education professionals to ask themselves when carrying out steps one to four, above.  The questions aim to help you review the current practices in your school, and identify areas for improvement.

Read the guide for further information.

Teacher say children face mental health epidemic

Teenage mental health charity stem4 have released findings from a survey of teachers looking at children and young people’s mental health issues in schools.

Findings from an online survey of 300 teachers working in primary and secondary schools , and further education colleges in the UK show that:

  • 78% of teachers said that at least one of their pupils has experienced a mental health issue over the past year;
  • 14% said that at least one of their pupils has experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviours over the past year;
  • 66% reported a pupil has suffered anxiety, and
  • 45% have witnessed a student with depression
  • 30% engaged with a pupil who had an eating disorder
  • 28% supported a pupil with self-harm
  • 10% reported a pupil who had an addiction.

Yet the teachers told the survey that just under half (46%) of students are unable to access the mental health services they need to make a recovery, with only one in five (19%) saying all these students were getting the treatment they needed. One in five (22%) say pupils needing specialist treatment typically had to wait more than five months for an appointment, and more than a third (36%) had feared at some point that a pupil would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Nearly one in ten (9%) described their school’s mental health provision as ‘non-existent’, with 30% saying it was inadequate or very inadequate. Four in ten (40%) of the state school teachers surveyed say the need for mental health services has increased over the past year. Over half (52%) of all respondents believed family difficulties were contributing to their students’ problems while other common causes were exam stress and the emotional impact of bullying, both cited by 41%.

For more information read their full news release.

Growing up in a military family

The report, ‘Kin and Country: Growing up as an Armed Forces Child’ by the Children’s Commissioner for England, explores how primary and secondary school children with parents in the Armed Forces feel about moving school or country, how their lives at home and school change with deployment and whether or not they feel they receive the support they need.

The Children’s Commissioner’s Office spoke to 40 children, aged 8-15 years old, up and down the country whose parents are currently serving in the Army, Navy or RAF, as well as speaking to teachers, parents and members of the Armed Forces to build a clear picture of where there are gaps in provision for children, and why these gaps exist.

The report shows that most children in Armed Forces families are growing up living happy lives, despite the unique challenges they face. It is clear though that the lifestyle can be tough, and that multiple school moves often leave children feeling unsettled and anxious. For children with additional needs or teenagers in the middle of exam courses, moving around adds another layer of complication.

Alongside the impact of mobility, service children describe a range of complex emotional responses to the deployment of their parents, sharing the impact that parental absence has at home, with changing family dynamics and increased responsibility for siblings and household tasks. For children who had both parents deployed at the same time, these issues are exacerbated by the need to move to stay with another family member for a significant period of time.

However, despite the challenges highlighted in this report, many of the children in the study had developed very effective coping strategies. The vast majority of service children the research team spoke to during this project were happy, resilient and incredibly proud to have a parent serving in the Armed Forces.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, commenting on the report, said:

“The vast majority of service children we spoke to during this project were happy, resilient and incredibly proud to have a parent serving in the Armed Forces. Belonging to a military family was central to their identity and sense of self, and it is clear that we should celebrate the contribution and the sacrifices made by military families.

“However, more can be done to improve the services that help these children as they cope with the pressures brought about by frequent moves and parental deployment. I want to see a child-focused approach to supporting military families that takes into account the complex challenges that are inevitably part of growing up in an Armed Forces family.”

Read the report, Kin and Country: growing up as an armed forces child.

Digital Friendships of young people aged 8‐17 years

For Safer Internet Day 2018, the UK Safer Internet Centre commissioned an online survey of 2000 young people aged 8‐17 years, which was conducted by Censuswide.

The findings reveal how central technology is to young people’s relationship and the many different platforms they are using to interact with each other. It also highlights both the positive and negative role that technology can play in young people’s relationships and that whilst they are proactively helping to build a better internet, they also want support from the adults in their lives to do so.

  • Being online is key for many young people’s relationships, and they are using a number of different platforms to communicate.
  • Technology is changing the way young people are interacting with each other as well as their ideas of what constitutes a ‘good friendship’.
  • Young people have strategies to manage their online relationships but also want adults to support them when things go wrong.

Download the Digital Friendships Report and Executive Summary

 

Suicide in England and Wales increasing among young people

The Guardian reports on figures that show the overall the number of deaths by suicide among those age 10 to 19 in England and Wales has increased by 24 per cent from 148 deaths in 2013/14 to 184 tickets in 2015/16. The number of deaths by suicide in the same age category increased by 107 per cent from 2013/14 to 2015/16 in London itself.

The Brent Centre for Young People in north London under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act requested the information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  The centre called for more investment in mental health services and education to prevent a “needless waste of young lives”.

Dr Maxim de Sauma, the chief executive of the centre, which supports more than 600 young people with mental health problems each year, said: “When young people with crippling or disabling mental health conditions are not given the support they need, it wastes lives.”

Read the full article here.

How the food we feed young people affects their brain

How the food we feed young people affects their brain

At work we’ve been reflecting recently on how our young people’s diet affects their brain.

When it comes to what you bite, chew and swallow, your choices have a direct and long-lasting effect on the most powerful organ in your body: your brain. So which foods cause you to feel so tired after lunch? Or so restless at night? Mia Nacamulli has this amazing video which takes you into the brain to find out.

The challenge now is how does this alter the youth work we run – does it change how what food we provide and what treats we offer?  What are you doing in your setting?

View the full lesson here.