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Mental health care access for foster children needs a rethink

Image of carer holding hand of child
Sue Zeng / Unsplash

News round-up / by Conor D'Andrade

The Fostering Network, a charity that represents foster carers, has concluded in a report that the government is failing to provide adequate care for children in foster care leading to a “mental health crisis.”

The report states that half of all foster carers care for a child with a mental health illness such as depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or an attachment disorder.

However, in a survey of 3,352 foster carers conducted by the charity, it was found that only one quarter of foster carers said the child they fostered were receiving care for their mental health, while another quarter said their foster child needed mental health care which they are seeking unsuccessfully.

Jacqui Shurlock, Head of Policy and Campaigns at The Fostering Network, says that there are major access barriers for foster children in need of mental health services.

Currently, a foster child's referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs) is restarted if they are placed in a county with a different NHS trust or local authority, potentially extending a child's wait for mental health support significantly.

Shurlock says that the results show a “significant area of unmet need for children in foster care” which indicates a “mental health crisis” within the sector.

“We know, from the fact that they’re in care, they will have experienced trauma," said Shurlock. "But, we weren’t expecting to find that percentage not getting any mental health support.”

Can workplace praise keep mental health issues at bay?

A survey into employee wellbeing has found that mental health issues are twice as likely to affect workers who do not feel valued at work, compared with those who do.

The Employee Recognition Survey, conducted by Wildgoose, also revealed the startling number of people feeling unappreciated on the job, with less than 1 in 20 saying they that they feel their work is fairly valued.

Comprising employees from 133 UK companies, the results paint a stark picture for employers who do not take action – employees who did not receive the praise they felt was due were twice as likely to have found new employment within a year.

One of the major reasons highlighted for feeling unappreciated within the workplace was that remote work leads to less impromptu moments where praise is often handed out more candidly.

“Praise is a form of recognition and acknowledgement, which is a basic human need," said psychologist Kasia Richter. "We all want to be seen, heard and witnessed.

"Some of us are more sensitive and have a greater need to be praised than others. If a person strongly identifies himself/herself with the job it becomes even more important to acknowledge them, their efforts and achievements.”

Concerns raised over 'self-medicating' among Welsh youngsters

BBC Wales has raised concerns about the number of young people turning to drugs such as cannabis and diazepam to ‘self-medicate’ rather than enduring the months long waiting lists for counselling and other mental health care.

The Welsh government has said that 92% of those referred for substance disorders received treatment within 20 days, but director of the addiction charity Adferiad Recover, Professor Euan Hails, says more needs to be done:

"Young people have a tendency to seek help, but often it's not forthcoming," says Hails. "There is also more access than there has been to alternative substances.

"Some young people might try that approach rather than going to their GP or loved ones," he adds. "It can be a way of keeping things private until it then becomes a problem in its own right."

BBC Wales offers the experiences of attempting to self-medicate while waiting for care from ‘Dave’ and ‘Jordan’.

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