Drive Forward calls for urgent government action on mental health

Drive Forward is calling on the Government to take urgent action to tackle the unacceptably high levels of mental health disorders among young people leaving the care system. 

In a submission to the Government’s Independent Review into Children’s Social Care, we are calling for there to be at least one NHS-funded mental health practitioner in every local authority in England to provide bespoke support to care leavers. 

Farhia, a care leaver who is a campaigner on Drive Forward Foundation’s Policy Forum said: 

“Being care experienced is considered a huge risk factor for mental health and yet provision does not reflect this. When I was a child in care, I was able to access CAMHS (Children and Adult Mental Health Services) more easily than my peers and yet as an adult, finding support has been unbelievably difficult. 
“Care leavers are having mental health support stopped right at the same time as they become independent. This isn’t the way a parent would treat their children and it’s not how our corporate parent – the state – should be treating us. 
“We need care leavers’ mental health to be taken seriously and this action needs to come from the top.” 

The Independent Review into Children’s Social Care is due to be published in Spring 2022. Drive Forward is calling on the review, positioned as a “once in a generation opportunity to transform the children’s social care system”, to include a recommendation for universal mental health support at local authority level as part of the solution to improve care leavers’ mental health. 

Poor mental health is endemic among young people with experience of social care. Evidence includes: 

  • 72% of children in residential care have a mental health disorder (Barnardo’s). These disorders often continue into adulthood 
  • Care experienced people are between 4 and 5 times more likely to attempt suicide as adults (Barnardo’s) 

Anton Babey, CEO of Drive Forward Foundation, said: 

“The care review is a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to take care leavers’ mental health seriously and we are today calling on the Government to take action to make this happen.   
“Employment is one of the single biggest factors that can positively transform the life of a young person leaving care, but mental health is one of the main barriers to progress. Nearly half of looked after children have a mental health disorder. 
“Getting the right support as a care leaver is a postcode lottery. That’s why we need the UK Government to take action and ensure that the NHS and local authorities have the resources to work together and provide for their care leavers.” 

To coincide with Drive Forward’s submission to the care review, we are jointly hosting a conference to address mental health support for care leavers, together with Catch 22’s National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum. Chair of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care, Frontline founder Josh MacAlister, and Children and Families Minister Will Quince are addressing the event, which is also attended by representatives from a wide range of social care and mental health organisations.   

Find out how you can support our campaign for improved mental health services for care experienced young people below.

How you can support our campaign

Write to your MP

Write to your MP and ask them to call on the government to start taking care leavers’ mental health seriously. You can find out who your MP is here. To save you some time, just use our template email!

Write to the Chair of the Care Review, Josh MacAlister

Write to the Chair of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care, Josh MacAlister, and ask him to demand bespoke mental health support for care leavers in his final report. You can write to Josh by emailing review.childrenssocialcare@education.gov.uk. Find a template email here.

Enable young people to drive policy forward

This campaign has been created by care-experienced young people, for care-experienced young people. In facilitating the Policy Forum and ensuring this continues to be the case, Drive Forward Foundation needs staff, venues, zoom accounts and other expenses to ensure our young people’s campaign ideas turn into action. Your support matters!

TEMPLATE ONE: Email to your MP

If you don’t know who your MP is you can find out and get their contact details here.

 

Dear [NAME OF MP],  

I am writing to you about the issue of care leavers’ mental health. Mental health affects us all, but for children in care, 72 per cent are likely to have a mental health disorder that will follow them into adulthood. Care experienced people of all ages are between four and five times more likely to attempt suicide.  

Understandably, CAMHS services are encouraged to ‘fast track’ children in care. However, no such fast track is in place for those who have left care and need to access adult mental health services. This means that when care-experienced people turn 18, they lose out on much-needed priority access to mental health support just as they become fully independent. 

The state is the ‘corporate parent’ of children in care and care leavers. Every parent would do whatever they could to arrange mental health support for their children if they needed it. The corporate parent shouldn’t be any different. The Drive Forward Foundation is therefore calling for there to be at least one in-house counsellor in every local authority leaving care team.  

As my Member of Parliament, I am calling on you to ask the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to work together to ensure all care leavers get the mental health support that they need. 

You can find out more about the campaign by going to https://driveforwardfoundation.org/care-leavers-mental-health

Yours sincerely,  

[YOUR NAME] 

 

TEMPLATE TWO: Email to Josh MacAlister, Chair of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care

Email to: review.childrenssocialcare@education.gov.uk

 

Dear Josh MacAlister,

I am writing to you about the issue of care leavers’ mental health. Mental health affects us all, but for children in care, 72 per cent are likely to have a mental health disorder that will follow them into adulthood. Care experienced people of all ages are between four and five times more likely to attempt suicide.

Understandably, CAMHS services are encouraged to ‘fast track’ children in care. However, no such fast track is in place for those who have left care and need to access adult mental health services. This means that when care-experienced people turn 18, they lose out on much-needed priority access to mental health support just as they become fully independent.

The state is the ‘corporate parent’ of children in care and care leavers. Every parent would do whatever they could to arrange mental health support for their children if they needed it. The corporate parent shouldn’t be any different. The Drive Forward Foundation is therefore calling for there to be at least one in-house counsellor in every local authority  leaving care team.

As Chair of the Independent Review into Children’s Social Care, I am calling on you to prioritise care leavers’ mental health in your final report.

You can find out more about the campaign by going to https://driveforwardfoundation.org/care-leavers-mental-health

Yours sincerely,  

[YOUR NAME] 

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