Strategic Thinking - Where do we fit?

NHS Thinking

 Healthy diet, positive exercise, giving up smoking and not drinking too much.   These are all seen as key pillars of a health promotion campaign.  

However, one of the commonly overlooked issues when we discuss health and wellbeing is the contribution that healthy relationships make to physical and mental health - it is surprisingly often overlooked in work with children and families.   We can be passive about the promotion of healthy relationships - ie make an assumption that you've got good relationships or you haven't or we can see healthy relationships as based on skills that we can all learn and practice.

In I Matter Training we provide professionals and parents with an organised curriculum:  Key ideas that it is very helpful to understand if you want to move in the direction of happier adult-child relationships and happpier adult-adult relationships.   

Then we provide support in learning to put these ideas into practice.    This is an approach that can support skills development across the life span but it is particularly important as a set of ideas when working with our most vulnerable children and adults.

Education Thinking

Improving Outcomes for Vulnerable or Disadvantaged Children

The key commonly overlooked issues when it comes to discussing outcomes for vulnerable or disadvantaged children is the issue of child development and the way that child development is supported by healthy adult-child relationships.   It is hard to believe that such central and basic issues are still given so little attention but this is the case.  

This is the reason that our I Matter Training company mission is to see support for healthy home based Adult-Child Relationships and a statutory right to a developmentally sensitive curriculum as an entitlement for all children and families, particularly the most vulnerable. 

Relationship skills are something that emerge if properly supported.   If they are not supported, we see that the foundations for healthy successful relationships  don't emerge.   Interestingly we can't just 'teach' relationships via 'top down' approaches.    Instead we have to 'create the conditions' in which skills in co-operative relationships and understanding self and other can emerge.  Vulnerable children and adults therefore usually need more time and more support and they need more child centred curriculum.  They need adults who are much better trained and supported.   With such informed support these vital skills do emerge.   However there is a glaring gap in this aspect of national policy and practice

To achieve better results for vulnerable children, we need an urgent view of the way in which the national curriculum is diverting attention from these critical basics.   We also need to review the levels of stress that teachers are experiencing under an overloaded top down approach, and we need to create the conditions that help make it safe to discuss home relationships.

To see improved outcomes, we need a review of a full range of policies in the context of what an integrated theoretical framework is telling us about what children and families need in order to thrive.

Mental Health

The THRIVE FRAMEWORK - Transforming practice in CAMHS

Click here for information

There are some very clear difficulties with the delivery of CAMHS services seen in the long waits for services and the poor investment in children's services more generally.

One step towards a revised approach to CAMHS delivery is the Thrive Framework which advocates a more embedded approach to the service delivery rather than referral out to specialist practitioners.

Our view is that the Thrive Framework is an important step in the right direction.  However we are also of the view that it doesn't address some fundamental issues.

Notably exactly WHAT should practitioners be trained to do, WHY and HOW?

This lack of a consistent theoretical framework for practice decision making and a 'child centred' approach that unintentionally overlooks the absolutely fundamental importance of the adult-child relationship means that the experience of parents is often very unsatisfactory and that services slide into an overly medicalised approach which hunts for evidence of disorder in the child rather than looking to support and strengthen relationships and support for healthy development...

Training in the I Matter Framework is complementary to and strengthens the intent of the Thrive Framework.

Green Paper on Children's Mental Health 2017

Everyone agrees there is a crisis in the provision of children's mental health care.  Where do parents go if they are concerned about a child?  

Our view  is that current policies and practices are too often not in line with what the evidence is telling us about what children and families need to thrive.  

Though there is a clear concern about the lack of resources, we are not of the view that more 'treatment' by experts is what is needed.   Why?  Because the language and approach of  treatment' holds within it a serious risk of disempowering the very individuals it claims to set out to support.   

For mental health to emerge in children and adults our professional practices need to be focussed on empowering communities, schools and families to take action to build more effective inclusive relationships, based again on support for the foundations of healthy relationships and support for the emergence of psychological maturity.

Positive mental health depends upon a number of things but relationships are key and this aspect of mental health is not yet being given enough attention.    Therapy is not the only approach that will improve relationships.  Sometimes therapy is not the best approach.    Sometimes parents and children need some new insights and understanding.   

As one of my parent clients said recently

'I just didn't know - no-one had explained'.   It all makes so much more sense now'.   This is the gap.

That is where we come in.   Well-designed psychoeducation that is supported by a community approach over longer time scales is key to the approach we advocate.

We need to keep hold of a longer view.  The trouble with 'treatment as an idea' is that it also implies something needs to be fixed.  We don't see it that way.    Relationships involve a journey and so what we need to get better at monitoring is progress on the skills that are key to positive progress in that journey.


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HOW DOES I MATTER TRAINING IMPACT EXACTLY?

It's quite simple really - we offer resources and encourage people to take time to think and learn about what is happening around them..

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OUTCOMES AMD IMPACT (COMING SOON)

We carefully gather evidence of the impact of I Matter Training using a variety of formats and will be presenting more here very shortly.

Get Started: Learn why healthy adult-child relationships and healthy communities matter for mental health, positive behaviour and healthy child development at home and in school. Then.. Take Stock and Go for Results.

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If I had understood these ideas earlier

I could have been a lot more effective

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