A blog written by Dr Christina McMellon
It started with an idea. How can we support social workers to think more about the links between care experience and mental health?
And so, in order to answer the question, we successfully applied for a small grant from University of Edinburgh’s Knowledge Exchange Fund to bring a small group of people who know something about the topic together to explore that question.
On 30th January, three young people from 439 (West Lothian’s Champion’s Board) three members of staff from Who Cares Scotland and three academics came together to start thinking through the links between care experience and mental health. All of the people in the group have important knowledge and experiences and expertise that we can use to help us answer our question. By working together over the next few months we think we can create something pretty special.
We started with some amazing discussions about 2 main questions:
- What are the main things that impact on care-experienced young people’s mental health?
- What could adults do to help?
We also ate quite a lot of pizza and looked at some videos and leaflets that other groups of young people have made to share their experiences and opinions of the care system.
This was the group’s overall favourite: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-northern-ireland-48466031/kids-in-care-changing-the-language
Over 6 meetings we will continue these discussions to develop and facilitate a training session for several groups of trainees and professionals working with care-experienced young people. We’ll also be looking at the existing academic evidence about this topic (what we already know from the research that people have already done) and we’ll be thinking about how we can create some sort of resource to share what we are learning.
In order to give you a wee taster of the discussion we asked a few group participants to tell us what they thought was the most important thing that we discussed tonight:
“The most important this was when we discussed what adults can do to help us, cos I think we discussed multiple times what affects care-experienced young people and stuff so it was nice to think about what adults can do for us and what we actually want…like just being there for us and just listening.”
“I think the most important thing we talked about was connections, like having a connection with an adult and keeping that connection going and not losing it. Keeping that connection and keeping the trust.”
“I think it was really good to talk about what the issues are but then immediately to move into the what can we do takes us into a wee bit of a different space which is nice.”
For more information get in touch with
Dr Pearse McCusker firstname.lastname@example.org
or Dr Autumn Roesch-Marsh at email@example.com