Young people speak mental health with Minister

Young people have been speaking about work to improve mental health assessments for children coming into care with the Minister of State for Children and Families, Vicky Ford.

The Minister, Vicky Ford MP, was keen to learn about the new approach in Doncaster to help ensure that children and young people are assessed at the right time, with a focus on their individual needs for those in care.

The pilot has seen Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Doncaster CAMHS and Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, working alongside Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Young Advisors to design and deliver the new service.

The Minister, who met virtually with representatives from the partner organisations said: “It was wonderful to meet the new Virtual Mental Health Leads in Doncaster and discover how this pilot has brought together experts from a range of services to support the mental health needs of young people entering care. The pilot is all about a child-centred approach and I found it incredibly valuable to hear the voices of the Trust’s Young Advisors, who spoke passionately about the importance of being listened to, particularly at very difficult times.

“The wellbeing of every young person is a priority for this Government, but especially the most vulnerable. That is why we have extended these mental health pilots until March 2021, as well as providing unprecedented support for projects and online resources that address the impact of the pandemic.”

An active member of the pilot board, Trust Young Advisor Kanisha says her role has seen her advising, supporting and providing a young person’s perspective at board meeting: “It has been great to be involved in the pilot. Speaking with the Minister I was able to share my own personal experiences about past difficulties regarding my mental health assessment process. I feel honoured to have an input in this piece of work that will allow young people to express themselves in a way that helps them to feel understood and comfortable to raise issues going forward.”

The mental health assessment pilots, run nationally by the Anna Freud Centre, will look at providing improved assessments for children entering care.

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Chief Executive, James Thomas said: “This pilot, although in its early days, is already helping young people to take control. It is helping us to understand their world by using their language and listening to the things we get right, and the things we can make better.

“This project has really taken shape thanks to the invaluable input of our Young Advisors who have provided their unique perspective allowing us to further understand how young minds work, so we can supply the best outcome.”

Doncaster is just one of nine pilot areas across the country that has been trailing this new approach to mental health assessments.

Christina Harrison, Director for Children’s Services at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very proud to be part of this new mental health assessment pilot to benefit children and young people across the borough.”

“She provided a balanced, succinct and empathetic approach that remained focussed on the children.”

Child protection conference chair

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