Earlier this year, we undertook work with Midlands Lancashire CSU to support procurement of the children’s mental health service (CAMHS) across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin CCGs. Whilst there is a big focus on clinical care and support, families told us that the thing that helped most was a much more social model of recovery.
The way they described it, it sometimes felt as if they were drowning at sea. CAMHS was like a lifeboat – and if they were lucky, CAMHS might throw them a lifeline. But when they reached the boat, often they found they were unable to get on board because they were ‘ineligible’.
What they really felt they needed was a rapid course of swimming lessons so they could keep afloat and cope in the water. If they got this, they might never need the lifeboat. This is something that we have heard in other areas too.
Families told us that the kind of things that helped them to cope were:
- Talking to another parent who had experience of supporting a child with the same behavioural issues
- Learning strategies to support their child to keep calm and cope
- Clubs and activities that their child could get involved with that were fun e.g. drama groups, sport etc
- Support at school.
We also recognised foster parents as an untapped source of expertise and a group who could mentor birth parents who were coping with difficult behaviours. Because there is a high turnover of foster parents, with some stopping fostering, developing foster parents as mentors for others could be a great way to retain their expertise within the system.