Children & young people – from addressing self-harm to developing emotional resilience

We know that across South West London (SWL) we have a high number of children who are self-harming, and we want both to address and prevent this by developing consistent wellbeing support and early intervention.
We aim to reduce the number of children self-harming in South West London through a ‘whole system’, multi-agency approach, using health, education and local authority resources to provide support in schools to parents and carers and children and young people.

Since our partnership came together in early 2018 we have established a cluster of schools in each borough that is working with each of our CCGs and with other health agencies and higher education partners to introduce enhanced support for emotional wellbeing. We have also secured funding to establish an innovative ‘trailblazer’ programme to pilot new approaches to working with children and young people to support them to develop resilience and to get easy and rapid access to specialist help if they need it.

Our work is informed by the views and experiences of children, young people, parents and carers, and will continue to be built on this foundation as we take forward this important programme.

How have we involved children, young people, parents and carers?

In the summer of 2018 we engaged children and young people and parents and carers, as well as teachers and schools to examine root causes of self-harm and poor emotional wellbeing, as well as to test a number of potential solutions. We accessed children and young people primarily through voluntary sector organisations and schools in each of the south west London boroughs. We ran 8 meetings and we spoke to 42 young people, and had over 1200 responses to our online survey.

You can read our report of this below which outlines what people told us.

How have we responded so far?

In response to what we heard we have:

  • Narrowed down our long-list of possible interventions to a shorter list that children, young people, parents, carers and teachers told us would work for them.
  • Developed a diverse model of support that is based outside of a medical environment – in schools – and that includes one-to-one and group sessions for children and young people, online self-help and counselling, an online directory of services and education/training programmes for parents and teachers
  • Secured funding to deliver some innovative ways to deliver emotional wellbeing initiatives through schools, using newly trained mental health support workers who will be based in schools.

What happens next?

The involvement of children and young people will be critical as we put our plans into practice, and we have developed a framework for involvement to ensure that at every opportunity we take action to ensure that the voice of children, young people, parents and carers is built in to our work – in needs assessment, in service design, in service delivery, in monitoring the quality of the services we provide and in our assurance processes.

For example:

  • We have asked all partners to sign up to some core principles for involvement to make sure that involving children, young people, parents and carers is truly everyone’s business.
  • We are making sure that when we sign a contract with a service that will be working with us, they also commit to involving children, young people, parents are carers in developing and improving their services.
  • We are involving young people in designing and procuring new services we introduce as part of this programme; for example, the Wandsworth Youth Council and a school student council have recently taken part in deliberations to inform the selection of the provider of a new online counselling service for young people (February 2019)

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