Transforming Mental Health and Well-Being in Lancashire and Cumbria?

According to the recently published Lancashire Children and Young People’s Resilience, Emotional and Mental Health and Well-Being Transformation Plan for 2015-2020, it is recognised that:

  • There are increasing numbers of young people between the age of 10 and 24 years being admitted to hospital for self-harming
  • It is anticipated that there will be more than 45,000 (19% to 23%) children and young people in Lancashire who may have an increasingly complex emotional health need requiring intervention by 2015
  • Prevalence estimates for Lancashire vary by age and sex, with boys more likely (11.4%) to have experienced or be experiencing a mental health problem than girls (7.8%)
  • There are increasing numbers of children and young people approaching a number of different contact points with emotional, behavioural and mental health related problems
  • Variances in commissioning arrangements and clinical models have led to an inequity in capacity, funding, variation in service models and access to services across the Lancashire footprint
  • There is currently no provision or agency who has lead responsibility for children and young people requiring a place of safety for behavioural or perceived behavioural issues

The newly published Transformation Plan notes that:

  • An adequate and competent workforce is fundamental to the successful delivery of this Transformation Plan.
  • But the current lack of capacity was felt to be preventing services being able to move forward and transform
  • There is a need to…develop the workforce through evidence based education and training at both pre and post qualification levels
  • There is a real need for a comprehensive workforce strategy and plan in order to ensure that there are enough skilled staff to meet the mental health needs of children and young people

This is important but shocking information.  In the I Matter Project however we contend that there is also a key gap in models for practice in child and family work.  We argue in particular that in spite of the rhetoric of evidence-based practice there is no practice model in child and family work that adequately connects up the relationship between adult well-being, child well-being and development.  There is also a gap in models of service delivery that can respond to the sheer scale of the current unmet needs.  
What we think is therefore needed is some big picture innovative thinking about what is really underpinning the rise in child mental health difficulties, and some lateral thinking about how the difficulties might be more meaningfully addressed. 

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