The second reason I decided to develop I Matter Training was the sheer numbers of children with mental health difficulties and challenging behaviour in schools, clinics and in my own community, and the growing numbers of young people entering our criminal justice system. Click here to see a recent summary of Mental Health Statistics from Young Minds UK. Notice the important link between mental health issues and children who are ending up in the criminal justice system. I felt in the context of this, that there was a need to get important ideas to people who really need them. This was not just to the young people, it was the adults who cared for them.
I joined my clinical psychology training course having spent several years working in inner city Birmingham as a primary teacher. I therefore knew first hand the numbers of children with complex difficulties and challenging behaviours that were to be found in every school - and that was more than 20 years ago. I knew that every class teacher and every classroom assistant worked every day with children who were struggling to manage in school or access learning as result of social or learning challenges and/or trauma related difficulites. I knew that teachers often approached teaching with very little training indeed in anything to do with mental health nor even around child development.
As a new parent, I also knew that parenting was a steep learning curve but that if there were any more complex challenges, it was very difficult indeed to find people who were knowledgeable who could really help. So even adoptive parents or foster carers who often lived with the most complex children had very little preparation or support in making sense of what was going on.
I therefore started out trying to teach a class to professionals and parents in my area. There was a great deal of interest, but as finances became tighter it was more and more difficult to reach professionals and parents. Schools had to find funding not just for the courses but also for the cover for supply teachers so staff could be released. When trying to reach parents, we faced all the challenges of trying to support people who have to do the school run, be in at night, respond to the needs of a sick child etc etc. Schools and families were struggling, but how to respond? So, when the internet came along, it seemed that maybe this could be a way to reach people with more flexibility - and this led to the decision to create an online version.
But I am moving on ahead too fast - because the third reason I developed I Matter Training (click if you want more information) was because I was interested in the overlaps between the increasing numbers of diagnostic categories that were being so liberally used.
Look out for more of this in my next blog...
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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How do we improve the educational and mental health outcomes of our children?
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