Children’s Mental Health Week is a nationwide campaign that aims to raise awareness of children’s mental health and the support available. It also seeks to encourage conversations about mental health. It was started in 2015 by Place2Be, a mental health charity working in schools.
This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week theme is “Let’s Connect” which is very much in tune with Lambeth’s way of working. Health partners in Lambeth take a holistic approach to ensure children and young people are connected to the right support for their needs. This could be from health and care services, including mental health support, or from ‘social prescribing’ which links young people to wider community-based-activity and support options.
Half of all adult mental illness starts before the age of 14, and an estimated 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5-15 have a diagnosable mental health disorder, according to to the Healthy London Partnership. Young Londoners have additionally faced increased mental health challenges since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, with around three-quarters of them reporting poor wellbeing, and a third reporting depression, according to 2021 research by Partnership for Young London.
Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 is about children and young people making meaningful connections. Healthy connections with family, friends and communities support mental health and a sense of wellbeing. Without rewarding social connections, children and young people may feel isolated and lonely – which can have a negative impact on their mental health.
This young people’s health hub in Lambeth brings together primary care and wellbeing, offering holistic assessments and support options spanning physical and emotional health. Young people using the service have access to GPs, an in-house Mental Health Nurse from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and a team of Health & Wellbeing Practitioners, depending on their level of need.
Health & Wellbeing Practitioners are able to support children and young people who are experiencing difficulties such as low mood and self-esteem, anxiety and isolation issues. They offer a safe space for young people to express themselves, connect with others and talk about their difficulties.
The team works collaboratively with Lambeth’s 11-21 year olds to explore ways of problem solving, challenging negative thoughts and finding out about their passions so they can link to other services and sources of support in the community.
The work of the team at The Well Centre has been highlighted as a case study of best practice in a film that has been released for Children’s Mental Health Week.
The film, made by Transformation Partners in Health and Care, features Ama and Esther, two young people sharing their personal experiences. Also featured are Health and Wellbeing Coordinators Stefan, Elliot and Jhonelle, who discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for social prescribing services.
“By linking a person into a dance club or an art club, they will get the social sides of making new friends, learning communication skills… [it’s an] opportunity to engage in something, but also helping them to build confidence and gain skills”, says Stefan.
Clinical Director, Lambeth GP and Well Centre founder Dr Stephanie Lamb, emphasises the critical role social prescribing can play in addressing young people’s mental health needs in a more holistic way. She describes how for many young people, conventional, ‘sit down’ services such as counselling don’t suit. Speaking also of the benefits of giving young people the opportunity to explore other ways of addressing any needs they have, Dr Lamb points also to its role in empowering young people to be more in control of their health and wellbeing.
Listen to what they have to say in the video below.