We are coming to the end of the second year of our Hampshire Supporting Families Contract. To date, we have received and accepted over 250 families requiring intensive support in Hampshire. Significant and sustained progress has been evidenced, turning the most difficult family’s situations around in the given 6 month’s intervention time. Our support is not just to see improvements during our intervention; it’s about given the families the skills and knowledge to become more independent long term; to stand on their own two feet and succeed.

Our intervention and support is based on the criteria identified at the Early Help Hub meetings. The most challenging one being ‘Health’ particularly ‘Childrens Poor Mental Health’ The challenges are not only about how we can improve the mental health during our intervention time, but also to ensure that these improvements are sustained and individuals have access to the support they require.

The remainder of this article will explain our concerns and what we are working on to support children with poor mental health.

The CSW Mental Health Handbook was an idea developed in late 2018 in response to needs identified by family support workers, who were often tasked to work with children and young people with mental health problems but for whom there seemed to be no help. This was a result of delays within the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), where young people were waiting for long periods of time for treatment, or because they failed to meet the selection criteria for CAMHS at all. This is not to imply criticism of CAMHS, who do excellent work and are often stretched to full capacity and beyond. This project aims to sit in the identified ‘gap’ – supporting children and exploring with them ways to improve their mental health for themselves while they wait for help The Handbook does not seek to ‘cure’ young people, but rather offers a dialogue based around activity led, interactive sessions and using rewards and targets set by and with the child.

The project aims to help children and young people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, which can manifest as wide range of behaviours and have many underlying causes.. Indeed, the causes are as many and varied as the young people themselves. The Handbook does not offer answers to these underlying causes, but seeks instead to arm and equip the young person to manage and live with their consequences.

The pilot is the opportunity to try out the ideas with young people, and evaluate if the project should be fully extended to be offered to a broad range of young people who suffer from anxiety and depression.

Positive feedback from professionals has already been shared, stating that the improvements in the child’s overall behaviours and mental health in School is apparent. This highlights the benefits to our new proposed Mental Health Project in Hampshire…….Here’s to the future……