Young People's Mental Health

What changed? - A scheme of work with six lessons for each of Years 7 – 11 was developed, explaining potential causes of stress and what could be done to manage stress and keep it at a healthy level. The materials encourage young people to work through strategies for dealing with an emotional crisis and it shows young people how to support each other through day to day anxieties . It did not include talking about different types of mental illness. A film was commissioned which explained the Risk and Resilience model (stress bag) which could be used in the lessons (see below)

In December 2013 City of York Council's cabinet agreed to take forward the recommendations:

1) That secondary schools in the area be requested and strongly encouraged to introduce the Mental Health School Charter, setting out what strategies, resources and support systems were in place to help pupils, carers and support staff identify and cope with emerging emotional or mental health issues;

2) Whilst fully endorsing the YorOK Child & Adolescent Mental Health Draft Strategy 2013-16 and its vision and aims, the Assistant Director for Children’s Specialist Services provide a final draft of the Strategy Action Plan to the Board in Autumn 2013, taking account of the overall recommendations and findings from this review and drawing out the issues surrounding stigmatisation and equalities, as well as signposting where there is evidence of serious mental health problems;

3) That all providers of the Emotional Literacy Support Assistants Programme (ELSA) be actively encouraged to support the Conference being organised in the Spring Term for 2014, in line with the Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) Project, to promote and deliver a preventative strategy for addressing mental health needs in schools; and

4) That the potential benefits in the widespread adoption of the Mental Health Toolkit throughout York secondary schools be openly recognised and supported, to help schools respond to children and young people’s emotional and mental health needs. Whilst acknowledging the financial costs involved for schools in reproducing the Toolkit, all secondary schools in York be actively encouraged to adopt it and officers explore ways to support those schools in doing this.

In 2012 the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) agreed to set up a review and task group looking at Community Mental Health Services in Care of Adolescents. The aim was to raise awareness of emotional and mental health issues for young people, and the services and interventions available, with a view to ensuring that the wider children’s workforce are well informed and equipped to identify and respond to children and young people with emotional problems and/or emerging mental health issues.

The task group was asked to explore a potential correlation between youth offending and mental health problems in adolescents, and if there was evidence that effective early intervention could prevent an escalation in mental health problems for young people and consequently contribute to a reduction in youth crime and other poor outcomes for young people. A key message from specialist practitioners at York’s Children’s Mental Health Matters Conference held in February 2012 confirmed that early intervention could be highly effective in putting things right at an earlier stage.

To support the review consultation took place with a partners including:

  • York Youth Council
  • The Lead Clinician for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Strategy 2013-16
  • CYC Youth Offending Team Service Manager
  • Head Teacher - Huntington Primary School
  • Leader of Inclusion - Hob Moor Federation of Schools
  • The School/Home Liaison Officer - All Saints Roman Catholic Secondary School
  • School Nurses

The Task Group began its work in gathering information and evidence in support of this review by consulting a range of key stakeholders. The Group, supported by officers, undertook an initial scoping exercise to refine the focus and terms of the review. A subsequent programme of interviews with key stakeholders, to establish a clear understanding of the current awareness of and arrangements to support the emotional and mental wellbeing needs of children and young people, ensued. The group reviewed the range of current services, strategies and interventions across the City with a particular focus on the school community. A plenary meeting of the review group to analyse the evidence presented and to triangulate this with the emerging CAMHS strategy for the City was completed. The group ensured that the voice of children and young people remained at the heart of the process by the direct inclusion of and ongoing consultation with representatives from the Youth Council throughout.

The Task Group learnt that in 2011-12 the Youth Council had carried out a review of the PSHE curriculum in York’s secondary schools with the aim of suggesting more relevant and engaging material for lessons. It highlighted that there was a perception among many young people that there were a lot of unhappy people in schools. And, that young people wanted assurance that their emotional wellbeing was high on their school’s agenda, and consistent across the city. Officers reported that the national picture was fairly pessimistic but locally the picture was much more positive with schools wanting young people of all ages to be emotionally stable and happy.

Working with a Primary Mental Health Worker based at Castlegate, the Youth Council considered information on the experiences of young people with issues such as family bereavement. Looking at whether or not they received support from school. In order to address some of their concerns the Youth Council had identified a number of ways of improving school’s approach to emotional health and well being:

  • A scheme of work with six lessons for each of Years 7 – 11 was developed, explaining potential causes of stress and what could be done to manage stress and keep it at a healthy level. The materials encourage young people to work through strategies for dealing with an emotional crisis and it shows young people how to support each other through day to day anxieties . It did not include talking about different types of mental illness.
  • A film was commissioned which explained the Risk and Resilience model (stress bag) which could be used in the lessons – see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzGIXER5fdc

In addition, the Youth Council considered a Mentally Healthy School Charter which had been developed to describe what strategies, resources and support systems should be in place in secondary schools. The Charter states that schools should balance well-being with academic achievement, and there should be mental health sessions in PSHE, so students can learn how to deal with a crisis and develop resilience. The Youth Council also gave a presentation at a Head teacher’s conference in January 2012, and asked Secondary schools to complete a questionnaire, identifying which of the 12 actions on the Mentally Healthy School Charter they already did in school, so there was baseline data.

The Youth Council presented their findings at the Child & Adult Mental Health Strategy Conference in February 2012, and highlighted the need for:

  • Information on support services to be put in every child’s school planner
  • Peer mentoring services – need to be properly supported by qualified staff, the school needs to allocate time and space
  • Lessons that educate everyone on how to stay mentally healthy and help friends when they are stressed
  • Accessible support for under 16s
  • Support for victims of bullying

Finally, to acknowledge the commitment of schools to develop emotionally supportive learning environments, the Youth Council created a three level award.

The work of the Youth Council was subsequently shared with the Healthy Schools and Risky Behaviour Consultant who was supporting a multi-agency group of professionals, including health and education representatives, to develop a mental health toolkit for schools. It is hoped that it will be developed in to lessons within York secondary schools.

The Task Group recognised that young people cared greatly about their own and their peers’ emotional wellbeing, and was pleased to note that the work undertaken by York’s Youth Council had been shared with the UK Youth Parliament as part of its Curriculum for Life Campaign.

In March 2013 a follow up meeting was held with representatives from York Youth Council. The young people presented “What young people need to help them cope” based on research they had carried out.

Discussions around the presentation highlighted that the world for young people was a very different place to that experienced by their parents when they were growing up, and they faced a lot of stress. Young people were very often judged by their peers on what they had (i.e. the latest designer trainers or an up to date mobile phone) and this, amongst other things, could lead to school being a very stressful place. Young people face challenges around: peer pressure, relationships, exams and future prospects (i.e. university and employment) as well as trying to understand who they were as individuals a s they matured.

Schools were also a different place from most parents’ experiences, with academic stress and the expectations of what young people were expected to achieve being stressful enough without the added stress of the issues mentioned in the paragraph above. In contrast, the Youth Council representative confirmed there were many things that were good about being a young person which was a good reason why young people needed to be taught about their own mental and emotional health and wellbeing and ways of coping with stress.

The Task Group were also presented with information on the emotional wellbeing of young people in York during the year 2011-2012 which showed that around 1300 children and young people were referred to CAMHS via Primary Mental Health Workers with 900 of these going on to be supported by the specialist CAMHS team. The Task Group noted that the figures provided only related to those young people that had been identified as having a mental health issue. They therefore acknowledged there may be young people that had not been identified and as such were not getting any help or support.

The statistics also indicated a gap between what is currently been taught in the PSHE curriculum area and what young people feel should be taught to develop their emotional wellbeing.

The Task Group discussed the stigma around mental health with the Youth Council representative. All felt that mental and emotional health and wellbeing could easily get mixed up with mental illness and young people needed education to help them understand and reduce the fear of prejudice. Teachers and young people needed to be able to access specialist help. Specifically teaching staff needed to have a good understanding of mental and emotional wellbeing and an awareness of mental illness. It was felt that there was little point in having some of the excellent support services available to schools if teachers did not understand. However, they agreed it was important to leave the diagnosis of mental illnesses to the professionals.

In summary, it was acknowledged by the Task Group from this representation that young people wanted assurance that their emotional wellbeing was high on their school’s agenda and consistent across the city.

The feedback from York Youth Council was combined with findings from other partners to form the following recommendations:

  • That secondary schools in the area be requested and strongly encouraged to introduce the Mental Health School Charter, setting out what strategies, resources and support systems were in place to help pupils, carers and support staff identify and cope with emerging emotional or mental health issues;
  • Whilst fully endorsing the YorOK Child & Adolescent Mental Health Draft Strategy 2013-16 and its vision and aims, the Assistant Director for Children’s Specialist Services provide a final draft of the Strategy Action Plan to the Board in Autumn 2013, taking account of the overall recommendations and findings from this review and drawing out the issues surrounding stigmatisation and equalities, as well as signposting where there is evidence of serious mental health problems;
  • That all providers of the Emotional Literacy Support Assistants Programme (ELSA) be actively encouraged to support the Conference being organised in the Spring Term for 2014, in line with the Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) Project, to promote and deliver a preventative strategy for addressing mental health needs in schools; and
  • That:
    • The potential benefits in the widespread adoption of the Mental Health Toolkit throughout York secondary schools be openly recognised and supported, to help schools respond to children and young people’s emotional and mental health needs.
    • Whilst acknowledging the financial costs involved for schools in reproducing the Toolkit, all secondary schools in York be actively encouraged to adopt it and officers explore ways to support those schools in doing this.

 

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