Work Strand 3 – Supporting Children and Young People
Children, Young People, “NEETs” – Young people not in employment, education or training Strategy
Our children and young people’s strategy seek to promote the Psychological, Social, Emotional and Behavioural skills in children and young people. This covers all the essential areas of social and emotional aspects of learning-self awareness, managing feelings, motivation, anger management, stress, anxiety, empathy and social skills. It is with the belief that every young person matters and we are committed to creating a working partnership with all those concerned and involved in the health, social care and emotional education of young people. Our strategic focus on good mental health for young people and children lays the foundation for sound social, psychological, behavioural and emotional wellbeing throughout life.
The underlying themes of our strategy for sound mental health are made up of the following:
Dispositions and Attitudes – this is about how children and young people become interested, excited and motivated about their learning on different health and wellbeing issues. The overarching principle is Self-confidence and Self-esteem which is about children and young people having a sense of their own value and understanding the need for sensitivity to significant events in their own and other people’s lives.
Making Relationships –This is about the importance of children and young people forming sound relationships with others and working alongside others.
Behaviour and Self-control – This is about how children and young people develop a growing understanding of what is right and wrong and why, together with learning about the impact of their words and actions on themselves and others with an underlying theme of Self-care. Self-care is about how children and young people gain a sense of self-respect and concern for their own personal hygiene and care and how they develop independence. Another aspect of self-care is having a good Sense of Community which is about how children understand and respect their own needs, views, cultures and beliefs and those of other people.
What SOUND mental Health means for children and Young People
- For children and young people, it is being special to someone and well cared for which is vital to their physical, social and emotional health and well-being.
- Being acknowledged and affirmed by important people in their lives leads to children gaining confidence and inner strength through secure attachments with these people.
- Exploration within close relationships leads to the growth of self-assurance, promoting a sense of belonging which allows children and young people to explore the world from a secure base.
- Children and young people need adults to set a good example and to give them opportunities for interaction with others so that they can develop positive ideas about themselves and others.
- Children and young people who are encouraged to feel free to express their ideas and their feelings, such as joy, sadness, frustration and fear, can develop strategies to cope with new, challenging or stressful situations.
What POOR mental Health means for children and Young People
Children and young people’s poor mental health is their inability to grow and develop emotionally and intellectually in ways appropriate for their age. Poor mental health affects children and young people’s ability to concentrate at school and home and can make it more difficult for them to learn, communicate and to get on with others. It is important to give children and young people a good start in life by ensuring they have consistent and reliable care, responding to them with empathy and sensitivity and helping them express feelings and develop good friendships. Providing love, security and the opportunity to learn within a caring family and environment can help children and young people develop a sense of personal identity so they feel good about themselves. Children and young people who tend to develop high self-esteem are able to handle positive and negative emotions, attempt new tasks and challenges, and act with some degree of independence. They are also able to develop the resilience to cope with pain, disappointment and sadness. On the other hand, children and young people that are Vulnerable are at particular risk of mental health problems. These include children and young people with severe illnesses, disabilities and learning problems, and those in adverse family circumstances. In addition, we focus on a number of other groups that seem especially vulnerable: looked-after children, young people who are homeless, and young offenders.
Looked-after children and young people
Children and young people looked after by Local Authorities are considered as among the most vulnerable in our society: many have histories of abuse or neglect, and most will have faced severe problems in their families of origin. These highlight high levels of mental health need faced by these children and young people in the care system. Many children and young people in the care system face frequent changes of placement, or go in and out of care. However, overall risk of poor mental health varies with the length of children and young people’s current placement.
Homeless children and young people
Homeless children and young people are known to be at high risk of poor mental health problems. However, the majority of mental health problems among homeless children and young people are chronic – in the sense that they are persistent for at least within one year of homelessness. Homeless children and young people also demonstrate poor educational attainments and high levels of childhood adversity. Many come from broken families, or have been abused or neglected, with quiet some time spent in Local Authority care. Although the causes of homelessness are complex, poor mental health findings is one of the factors that put young people at risk.
Young offenders, and especially those receiving custodial sentences, constitute a further vulnerable group with high levels of poor mental health. Young people in prison survey often experience exceptionally threatening or catastrophic event at some point in their lives. The UK National statistics for the health of children and young people indicate that about Four per cent of young males and seven per cent of young females in the UK meet the full criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is estimated that about two-thirds of male young offenders and half of the females in the UK report hazardous or harmful levels of alcohol use in the year before they come into prison. Illegal drug use is also common, with over half of both male and female young offenders with dependence on drugs in the year before prison.
In practice, most of incarcerated young offenders face multiple poor mental health difficulties. Among young males the most common pattern is of three co-occurring disorders and among females co-morbidity is even more marked, with almost a third of young female prisoners meeting the criteria for four or five psychiatric disorders. Tendencies towards suicide and self-harm also emerges as key risks for young prisoners. Over a third of male young offenders on remand say they have had thoughts of suicide at some point in their lifetime. Young female prisoners report even higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts than their male counterparts. Rates of parasuicide (self-harm without the intention of suicide) in the UK current prison term vary between seven per cent of male remand offenders and 11 per cent of young female sentenced prisoners.
“NEETs” – Young people not in employment, education or training
Young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) have been the focus of much national and local attention since the term was first coined in 1996. National targets and data have tended to focus on those aged 16–18, although the term can also be used for the larger group aged 16-24. Our Organisation addresses both these groups, particularly as a change in the law means that from 2015 all young people will have to engage in some sort of education or training up to the age of 18.10 This implies that the majority of those who are NEET will be over the age of 18. ‘NEET’ refers to not being in employment, education or training between the ages of 16 and 24. The term ‘NEET’ is not used to describe the identity of individuals or groups, but rather their situation or official status. Spending time not in employment, education or training (NEET) has been shown to have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health. This effect is greater when time spent NEET is at a younger age or lasts for longer. The link between time spent NEET and poor health is partly due to an increased likelihood of unemployment, low wages, or low quality work later on in life. Being NEET can also have an impact on unhealthy behaviours and involvement in crime.
These negative health effects do not occur equally across the population, as the chance of being NEET is affected by area deprivation, socio-economic position, parental factors (such as employment, education, or attitudes), growing up in care, prior academic achievement and school experiences. Being NEET therefore occurs disproportionately among those already experiencing other sources of disadvantage. Because the chances of becoming NEET follow a social gradient, reducing the proportion of people NEET could help to reduce health inequalities. Evidence of what works to reduce the proportion of young people NEET suggests that a successful strategy requires early intervention, tackling the barriers that young people face when attempting to move into education or employment. It also requires working across organisational and geographical boundaries and the involvement of local employers.
Our Overarching Strategies for working with Vulnerable OR “at Risks” Children and Young People
The Significance of our Strategy for Children and Young People emphasise the key significance of sound mental health. The key significance is one of sound mental health that moderates emotional and behavioural problems severe enough to impact on children and young people’s mental health functioning. Poor mental health functioning can be persistent, leaving legacies detectable well into adult life. Biological, psychological and social factors all seem likely to contribute to the risk of poor mental health functioning in children and young people, and may often act in combination. Although children and young people with psychiatric disorders are more likely to be in touch with services than their peers without such disorders, not all will have received the specialist help required to meet their needs. The burden of poor mental health problems is much elevated for children and young people whose families are stressed or disrupted and some of the most vulnerable groups are those who are dislocated from their families completely, and are in care, in custody, or homeless. Our policy for supporting children and young people’s is all about making sure children and young people have a good life, whoever they are, and no matter what problems they may face. Our policy draws on the government’s document of “Every Child Matters” for Children and young people with outcomes to:
- Be healthy
- Stay safe
- Enjoy and achieve
- Make a positive contribution
- Achieve economic well-being
These five outcomes for children and young people are at the heart of the Children Act 2004. Our oragnisation endeavors to fulfil these as our top priorities for all children and young people. It is really important that children and young people have a big say in the decisions that affect them. One of our main aim is to make sure that we are able to work in partnership with people such as teachers, doctors, social workers and the police to work better together to help children and young people.
The five outcomes of “Every Child Matters” are universal ambitions for every child and young person, whatever their background or circumstances. Improving outcomes for all children and young people underpins all of the development and work within our project. The outcomes are mutually reinforcing. For example, children and young people learn and thrive when they are healthy, safe and engaged; and the evidence shows clearly that educational achievement is the most effective route out of poverty. Improving outcomes also involves narrowing the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.
Our children and young people’s strategy focuses particularly on improving outcomes for looked-after children and children with special educational needs and disabilities, and on reducing the incidence of teenage pregnancy and the number of young people not in education, employment or training. We recognise the crucial role of parents, carers and families in improving outcomes for children and young people and are always the key stakeholders in our services. We also recognise the important role of the local communities to ensure that our children’s’ services reflect the needs of children and young people within different communities. Additionally, we also ensure a good level of participation of children and young people in the design and delivery of services.