Emotional wellbeing and mental health

EMOTIONAL WELLBEING AND MENTAL HEALTH

Working together to improve the county’s mental wellbeing

Mental health is a hot topic at the moment, and for good reason. Cases of mental health issues among children and young people are increasing rapidly, and there is widespread concern across the sector on how to address this.

While the current crisis of children and young people’s mental health may be contained by professionals in clinical settings, the problem is not going to be solved there. Instead, it will be solved by communities – in schools, families, friendship groups, youth clubs and charities – and by changes in attitudes, cultures, beliefs and behaviours of young people themselves, and in their parents, friends, teachers and other professionals.

We need to ensure that young people have access to healthy coping strategies such as exercise, peer support and a long-term bond with a trusted adult, and support to avoid unhealthy strategies like substance abuse, violence, abusive relationships and poor diet.

We are working closely with colleagues across the system in Surrey to work in partnership with children and young people to understand their lives, address the underlying causes together and to focus on prevention rather than cure. By working together, we can create conditions which enable every child in Surrey to thrive, not just to survive.

emotional wellbeing and mental health

How we’re supporting improvements in this area

The Surrey Wellbeing Partnership

The Surrey Wellbeing Partnership (SWP) is an alliance of third sector organisations working together on early support, building relationships with children and families, and strengthening links with the wider community provision. Surrey Youth Focus played an instrumental role in formation of the group in response to an urgent need to improve the emotional resilience and mental health of children and young people in Surrey.

To advance this work, we supported a successful bid to deliver the county’s new Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health contract as part of an alliance of local and national partners, including the SWP and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Prior to forming the SWP, the team spent 2-3 years influencing key contacts in the children’s system through reports like The Big Chat, and working with commissioners to understand the needs of children and young people and consider these alongside new operating models. This work led to a radically new commissioning approach for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), a significantly increase in funding towards early intervention, and an agreement for clinical providers to work collaboratively with the third sector.

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Voice through Art

Working in collaboration with Culture Box Surrey, ACM and local schools, our ‘Voice through Art’ project enables children and young people to explore their feelings and open up conversations about mental health through innovative art forms.

As part of this project, children at St John’s C of E Primary School in Dorking worked with a songwriting and production team to create lyrics and melodies which expressed their own emotions, voices and hopes for the future. The result is an inspirational song called ‘Let My Colours Shine’.

 

Accelerator – Working with schools

Since 2018 we have been working with three groups of schools in Surrey to explore early intervention opportunities for students’ emotional health and wellbeing. This includes staff training, trialling apps and other aids to promote positive mental wellbeing, working with a Primary Mental Health Worker, and building relationships between schools and relevant local charities. The schools have shared the outcome of their work in a series of YouTube videos.

emotional wellbeing and mental health

Healthy Surrey and Surrey Healthy Schools

We work closely with the NHS and Surrey County Council to provide practitioners with the resources they need to empower young people to make healthy choices. Designed to support youth-sector professionals and individuals, Healthy Surrey and Surrey Healthy Schools both offer free resources on a range of topics to help guide children and young people to make positive choices and keep themselves healthy and happy.