Psychological wellbeing services for children must be fundamentally rethought if we are to provide help for all those who need it, says a new report published by the British Psychological Society.
What Good Could Look Like in Integrated Psychological Services for Children, Young People and their Families says the demand services far outstrips capacity due to lack of resource. Services are overstretched and fragmented, which leads to long waiting times and young people falling through the net. There are also great inequalities that result in the most vulnerable people being more disadvantaged.
What Good Could Look Like calls for action to reduce demand by keeping children and young people healthy and tackling the risk factors that lead to mental health conditions.
What Good Could Look Like is written co-written by clinicians and commissioners, it says reducing demand can best be achieved by: addressing poverty and social inequality; health promotion, for instance in schools and maternity settings; and early intervention with families when children first begin to experience problems.
It contains a set of detailed recommendations for action, including:
- Planning services and systems that nurture good emotional health, not just those that help when problems arise.
- Robust assessments of how all government policies impact upon the mental health of families, including children and young people
- the use of community psychology to encourages whole communities to shape their own environments to be psychologically safe by building resilience and promoting healthy lifestyles for children and young people.
It draws on an earlier document – What good looks like in psychological services for children, young people and their families – that was published by the Society last year.
Duncan Law, one of the authors of the publication said:
“we need to ensure that programmes like CYP IAPT continue to improve the quality and effectiveness of existing services and we also need a whole system approach that considers the ways in which our society can support families and promote the healthy psychological development of our children and young people and intervene early when difficulties start to arise”