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BASW England response to ‘Feeling Heard’ report

While report’s findings are welcome, cross-party plan to prioritise preventative mental health services is needed


This Ofsted report  provides key learning with regards to how outcomes can be improved for children experiencing mental ill health, and their families, through a combination of collaborative working and early intervention.

At a time where 1 in 6 children are identified as having a probably mental disorder, a figure likely to be exacerbated by the devastating impact of the coronavirus across all spheres of life ranging from education to child poverty, this report is most timely.

BASW England welcomes the observation that individual workers can and do make a real difference to children with mental health needs, both through innovative working as well as building meaningful relationships with children. We are currently campaigning for social workers to be given the necessary resources to engage in relationship based practice through our 80:20 campaign.

However, in the context of a decade of austerity, ever increasing demands on the sector and the devastating impact of the pandemic on children and young people’s well being, it is increasingly difficult for children and young people to access timely, in person services. Cross-party pledges must be made to prioritise investment in children’s social care, social work recruitment, and preventative mental health services.

We also support the message that multi-agency working is imperative to ensure that children’s needs are met. This is a message consistent across serious case reviews in children’s social care.

However, during the coronavirus, some of our members have shared that they have continued to work with children and young people in the absence of support from allied services, due to a combination of funding cuts and lockdown measures. It is imperative that integrated services are available and children and young people can access services, especially within the context of pre planning, recovery and future resurgence episodes of the pandemic. 

BASW England fully supports the need for children’s ill mental health to be identified early to avoid further risk of harm, and welcomes suggestions that professionals should be provided with further training in this area. This is a further area which needs robust investment, as well as a clear long-term strategy to ensure that no child or young person is left unsupported.  

All sectors must join forces to ensure that the needs of children from diverse backgrounds, who often face additional hardship due to discrimination and socio-economic inequality, are met. This requires a universal commitment to anti-racist practice. BASW England is calling for a clear national strategy to ensure that this is implemented in a joined-up way across all frontline services.