Sharing is caring at the CORC conference

by Shelly Masters

On 15 October 2018 I attended my first CORC Forum. For those who don’t know CORC stands for Child Outcomes and Research Consortium and is the UK’s leading membership organisation that collects and uses evidence to improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. The event was fully booked, the largest they’d held so far and it had a real honest feeling of people not only sharing the great work they were doing but also asking the difficult questions that needed to be asked. The room contained decision makers and strategic thinkers, colleagues from statutory and voluntary sector service providers, health, schools, local government, and academia.

The culture of sharing was clearly there throughout the day as we started with Dr Jess Deighton sharing the emerging learnings from their cross-context resilience programme, 2 years in. With a huge sample it is is going to be interesting to see if these preliminary results continue to show the same early findings but worryingly (but not surprisingly) results are already showing on average 6 out of 30 students struggling with mental health needs. This is a doubling of what previous research has suggested and illustrates the need for early preventative mental health interventions in schools.

Other sharing came from Mike Bridges, informing us of the learnings from an Oldham as an opportunity area where schools are working together the support mental health of their young people and Viv McCotter about what’s next in terms of the Green Paper and many others. One speaker who was most impressive was young Natasha White, a Young Champion at the Anna Freud Centre. She was brave enough to share with all of us in the room about her experience of CAMHS and her school and how she and her parents had to be the connection between the two institutions.

This has stayed with me as I truly believe it should be a lot easier for the young person and the teachers that want to support a student who is receiving CAMHS support. She was very honest is saying how she was assessed was too quantitative whether it was a clinical assessment score or her attendance record at school. It was great to see a young speaker at the event following on from what Dean wrote regarding the Westminster conference.

There were some interesting points made by the audience about who the Designated Mental Health Lead (DMHL) should be in a school and if it should actually be two members of staff and that pupils should have a voice in who that person is in school. Both these points I think are extremely valid having interviewed new staff with 6 th Form students, their inputs are valuable and honest as the service user so to speak. Other honest question were asked such as where and how the funding that the government is putting towards the DMHL will actually be seen and what the difference will be with the new proposal of Educational Mental Health Practitioners as they will still be spread across a large number of schools. There was a great buzz in the room and conversations going on from people asking the difficult questions that I hope people will continue to do as more attention is given  to mental health. It’s excellent that those in powerful positions are beginning to make changes to support but it is always important to question to get the best possible outcome for our young people.