Our latest campaign Looked after Minds highlights the lack of mental health support for care-experienced children is limiting their potential and making them feeling frustrated, helpless and alone.  We are calling on the government for urgent action to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced children and young people.

We have launched our Looked After Minds campaign to coincide with World Children’s Day (20th November) – a global day of action for child rights. The campaign report sets out four vital areas for mental health care improvement, along with recommendations as to how positive change can be achieved for care-experienced children and young people.

The four key areas for improvement it highlights are advocacy, entering adulthood, responding to trauma and enabling positive childhood experiences.

Ben Twomey, NYAS Head of Policy and Research said, “The Looked After Minds campaign gives a platform to the voices and experiences of the children and young people we work with.

“A golden thread running throughout our report is that mental health support must be child-centred and rights-based, recognising that mental health problems can be prevented if the right support is given at the right time.

“We need to move away from a mental health system that requires its patients to be in crisis, towards one that is truly proactive: advocating on behalf of care-experienced children and young people; supporting them through crucial times such as entering adulthood; addressing trauma at the earliest opportunity; and striving for childhoods that are full of positive experiences and love.

“If we get this right, then the improvement to the mental health and long-term outcomes of care-experienced people would be significant. Everyone must have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood, not just survive it.

“NYAS’ message to all care-experienced people is that the Looked After Minds campaign hears you, and we will not stop working together to improve mental health and wellbeing policies.”

The Looked After Minds campaign is in addition to our response to the Government’s Green Paper – Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s which  outlines the desire to put prevention at the centre of all NHS care and decision making. Our response urged the Government to ensure the mental health of care-experienced children and young people is made a priority and focus of services going forward.

In September, NYAS Cymru responded to a public consultation on the ‘Together for Mental Health Delivery Plan 2019-2022’, and urged the Welsh government to place more emphasis on the specific needs of vulnerable care-experienced children and young people and a greater focus to be placed on mental health advocacy.