Many outside forces influence children’s mental health. Financial instability, insecure housing or employment, mental health difficulties, substance use issues, and family and domestic violence can all cause families enormous stress and anxiety. When parents experience a lot of stress, it can impact on them as parents and their relationships with their children.
Your role as an organisation is to connect with parents and support them to build positive mental health and resilience within their family. By taking steps to eliminate or buffer the impacts of health and social problems on parents, adult-focused services can improve children’s mental health and future wellbeing.
This requires establishing policies and structures to support practices within your service’s model of care. These policies and practices include incorporating child, parent and family wellbeing into:
- organisational missions, values and strategic plans
- human resource requirements including role descriptions, recruitment, induction processes and performance development
- service models
- competency guidelines
- training and supervision
- protocols for collaborative care, to enhance connections with child and parenting support services
- processes around referral for additional help
- intake and assessment documentation, including details around the parenting status of clients, along with questions about the wellbeing and development of their children and family; and
- routine performance and outcome measures (such as quantitative and qualitative evaluations) to demonstrate the accessibility and effectiveness of services provided to support parents and children.
Our Six ways to support child-focused practice in adult-focused services practice paper provides guidance and examples of processes that will enable you to support the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of children, even if it isn’t your ‘core focus’. For more information on engaging child and family partners in service development to support practice, visit our Child and Family Partnerships toolkit.
The Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health supports organisation leaders to promote and strengthen children’s mental health through the work of their organisation and their role in the community.
Changing structures to support children and families within an organisation is an iterative and ongoing journey. While this may require big policy and cultural shifts, you can make a difference by starting small and creating incremental change, building on what already exists within your organisation.
Below you will find links to resources around how to approach the journey and what to consider when creating change:
- How to create organisational change – A process driven by organisation leaders is needed to embed change at all levels of an organisation. In this resource, the change process is divided into three repeating phases:
- Gather information.
- Make plans.
- Take action.
- What to consider – This resource explores the three core areas that are foundational to create long-lasting change:
- Organisational ownership.
- Supportive operational environment.
- Staff equipped with skills, knowledge and support to practice.