On 12 February, a group from Dandelion Time attended a national conference in London looking at how to improve mental health services for children and young people. We had been invited by Open Forum Events who were keen for the Dandelion Time approach to Children’s mental health to reach a national audience. I was asked to provide a keynote speech and Carol Bridges, our Therapeutic Lead, was invited to be part of the panel discussion. What a great opportunity to tell the world, including all the leaders and shakers in children’s mental health, all about the fantastic work we do, and why we need to expand to reach more children. First up we heard from Jenny George from the National Audit Office, who have recently reviewed progress against the key government objective of achieving Parity of Esteem, which has been modest. I then spoke about the importance of getting to the root cause of society’s problems in order to create services that bring about sustainable change. Is there a parallel between the way we ignore the needs of children with difficulties and the way we fail to address huge challenges like climate change and environmental degradation? I spoke about the value of nature for health, and mental health in particular, and how a growing number of services, including Dandelion Time, are working within this wider context and achieving great results. I also touched on recent research evidence from the field of neuroscience which strongly supports this approach. Professor Sue Powell from the Nuffield echoed our call for sustainable comprehensive solutions in her excellent talk on students’ mental health.
Later Carol Bridges, Dandelion Time’s Therapeutic Lead, sat on a panel with representatives from digital health platforms Healios and Triple P. She spoke with great passion and clarity of the importance for children who have had trauma to have experiential help and ensure the whole family, and all those important to the child, are engaged in the healing process. She described the setting of Dandelion Time and the huge range of opportunities it offers to children and families. The audience were very receptive to us and some thought provoking questions came up. Our stand was mobbed in the lunch break and we ran out of leaflets on our new training course! In the afternoon we heard from Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the Child and Adolescent Forum of the Royal College of Psychiatry. She was able to share in depth evidence about the impact of social media on mental health and concerns about the rising prevalence of significant mental health disorders, particularly in girls.
We all agreed there was much more to do before we could collectively feel our children’s futures were secure and safe and they could all reach their potential. Lots of delegates want to visit Dandelion and we learnt such a lot too. Inspired now to reach out to policy makers and influence the decision making!
by Dr Caroline Jessel, Chair & Founder
For an overview of Dr Caroline Jessel’s keynote speech ‘ Making Connections’ please see Children and Young People’s Mental Health