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Promoting emotional health and building resilience in our children and young people

Date: Tuesday 4 February 2020
Author: Councillor Piers Allen
Title: Chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Services Committee

In the next few weeks, the Richmond Health & Wellbeing Board will be looking at the latest refresh of Richmond’s five-year transformation plan for children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. It builds on previous plans and refreshes the ambitions and key proposals for bringing about the transformational change required across the whole children’s mental health system by 2020 and beyond, as set out by national policy in Future in Mind and Implementing The Five Year Forward View.

As the Foreword to this report states, the fourth year of transformation has seen continual delivery of real improvements covering increased service access to evidenced-based treatments; access to crisis counselling in child and adolescent mental health services in Richmond, and strengthened partnerships both between agencies and with young people, parents and carers. 

However, there are still many challenges ahead given the stringent financial climate faced by the local NHS, local partners and the health economy across South West London, and at a time when new structures for the delivery of health and care services are changing to improve partnership working and deliver integrated services. And in a national context, we know that promised, increased funding for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) has been far from transparent, which is why I was so pleased to hear last week from one of our local MPs, Munira Wilson, on her proposed amendment to the NHS Funding Bill to improve transparency on government spending on children’s mental health.

The thrust of our local five-year journey is to develop more preventative approaches and provide easy access to help when needed, and continue to develop joined up pathways of care that leaves no child or young person and their family to feel left alone to face mental health issues.

The Council is a major part of the Health & Wellbeing Partnership (along with the local NHS and the community and voluntary sector, and our schools and colleges) and I am delighted that our Director of Public Health has chosen to focus on the 'Whole School Approach to Health and Wellbeing' as the theme of his independent 2019/20 Annual Director of Public Health Report, which will explore what the approach could look like for Richmond. The report will bring together various examples of good practice work with schools and colleges (such as Mental Health Support, PATHS, Daily Mile, Green Screens for Air Quality) and joint work with partners to develop a coherent offer to promote health and wellbeing across the borough. There is considerable overlap between the promotion of wellbeing and mental health, and while mental health is not simply the lack of illness, those with positive wellbeing are less likely to succumb to illness.

I am particularly pleased that this, and two other initiatives, chime with the theme of this year’s Child Mental Health Week (3 to 9 February) where the children’s mental health charity @Place2Be is focusing on the importance of looking after emotional wellbeing from an early age.

The South West London Health and Care Partnership has achieved considerable success attracting over £6m trailblazer funding to focus on a whole-school approach to emotional wellbeing (supporting children and young people, their parents, carers and teachers) and building emotional resilience in our school-aged children: in the 2019/20 Wave 1 of the project, 14 of our secondary and primary schools in Richmond will directly take part in the project, with an ambition that all schools will benefit in future years.

Finally, I am thrilled that it will be Richmond Youth Mental Health charities that will be the first to benefit from the new Richmond upon Thames Voluntary Fund - this will allow Off the Record to expand its highly valued counselling service for young people in the borough (particularly for those who may be waiting for a referral to the CAMHS service) and Richmond MIND to build on their current work supporting children and young people, delivering a range of wellbeing and resilience workshops to equip individuals with the tools, skills and knowledge to look after their own, and others’, emotional health.

There is much good work to be done, and I am excited we have so many good partners working together to achieve the Start Well priorities we recently set out in our local Health & Care Plan.

Updated: 24 March 2021