Mental health services provided for children in Cornwall have been cited as a model example, in a recent report from the House of Commons which looked at the benefits of early intervention to improve children’s mental health.
Headstart Kernow, a multi-agency partnership led by Cornwall Council and its work with Newquay Tretherras secondary school, were highlighted in the report by the Science and Technology Committee.
Councillor Sally Hawken, Portfolio Holder for Children and Wellbeing said: “Around one in every two adults in England is thought to have suffered at least one adverse childhood experience. Early intervention can help to tackle the potential long-term problems that these young people might encounter in the future as a result of their childhood experiences.
“It is so important that we can provide such a high quality service to help and support young people with mental health issues.”
Norman Lamb MP visited Cornwall to learn more about the HeadStart Kernow partnership, which aims to promote emotional resilience and mental wellbeing in 10-16 year olds to manage or prevent and reduce the risk of poor mental health.
One of the features of the partnership focuses on building an understanding of adverse childhood experiences and how they can affect children. Another fundamental element is the importance of an ‘emotionally available adult’ in young people’s lives and the important role schools can play in this.
HeadStart Kernow, funded by the Big Lottery Fund - the largest funder of community activity in the UK, provides training for school staff to directly support children with specific mental health problems resulting from childhood adversity. Training is also provided to relevant members of the local medical, police and voluntary sector workforce. Funding is available for schools to develop action plans aimed at supporting emotional wellbeing and resilience.
The report calls for a national strategy from the Government to make the level of early intervention services consistent across the UK. It proposes that the new national strategy should aim to learn from all the examples of good work in the UK, and these initiatives should be used as examples of good practise for other local authorities.
The report also proposes a central specialist team to improve early intervention and offer support to local authorities.
HeadStart Kernow is part of the five-year (2016-21) £56 million National Lottery funded HeadStart programme set-up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. HeadStart aims to explore and test new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 16 by supporting them to build their resilience. Six HeadStart partnerships in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham (in London) and Wolverhampton are working with young people, schools, families, charities, community and public services to make young people’s mental wellbeing everybody’s business. HeadStart is one of five major programmes set up by the Big Lottery Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.