England - Mental Health Training for Staff Who Support Care-experienced Young People

Target group: Social workers and leaving care workers who are supporting young people in and leaving care

Main goal of the project: To co-develop, deliver and test out a training programme to increase social worker and leaving care worker confidence and skills in recognising and responding to mental health difficulties amongst young people in and leaving care.

Short summary: The pilot project involves a partnership between an English Local Authority, YoungMinds (a children’s mental health charity) and researchers from the University of York. It aims to design, develop and deliver a mental health training package for social workers and leaving care workers who support young people in and leaving care.

This is a pilot project to see if such a model might work. It evolved from existing research that shows that care-experienced young people have a greater vulnerability to mental health difficulties and yet there is a lack of access to appropriate and timely mental health support. In the absence of specialist support, young people report that they prefer to speak to their social workers and leaving care workers about these issues.

The project involved consultation with: • care-experienced young people to explore their views on mental health, experiences of mental health services and what support would be useful • social workers and leaving care workers to understand how they currently support young people with their mental health and accessing relevant services and what might help improve support and therefore outcomes for young people • other professionals including health and mental health specialists to find out about the range of services

This informed the development of a one-day training programme which included an overview of different forms of health difficulties, the development of the adolescent brain and practical examples of how best to initiate discussions about and respond appropriately to mental health difficulties. The training has been delivered to 28 social workers and leaving care workers to date. As this is a pilot project, feedback on participants’ experiences of the training is being gathered so the training programme can be improved. The final training programme will then be tested in other local authorities and can be adapted to be used by other professionals supporting care-experienced young people, such as residential workers, foster carers and teachers.

Useful links (video’s, websites etc.): Talking Heads clip

Contact person & organization: Jo Dixon and Nicola Moran, University of York, jo.dixon@york.ac.uk

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