Work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and families in Bettws has been published in this month’s edition of Clinical Psychology Forum magazine.

The article focuses on the collaborative work between Save the Children Cymru, mental health charity Platfform and families in Bettws to improve community wellbeing, build connections and support, and improve early learning outcomes for children from birth to seven years old.

It builds on and shares the evidence which has helped to shape the approach of Bettws Early Learning Community (ELC), which is part of Save the Children’s Early Learning Communities programme bringing together local organisations to make sure that children are getting the support they need to thrive, learn and achieve their potential.

‘Unlocking the system: Place-based ways of working with children, their families and a neighbourhood psychologist in Bettws, Wales’  highlights the impact that adverse living conditions including deprivation, lack of opportunity and trauma has on mental health and learning outcomes, particularly during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

Evidence also shows that many children living in poverty are unable to access hospital appointments or support because of the additional emotional, financial or social strain it puts on families.

The article explains in the detail how Bettws ELC is working alongside families to better understand how to support communities and ensure children have the best possible start in life.

Dr Jen Daffin, Community Clinical Psychologist, Platfform, said in the article, “We know we need to focus on the early years because such adverse childhood experiences can have a lasting impact on young lives but if we can reach out to families with tailored support, based on this understanding, we can provide support for a better start in life.”

A key part of building on this approach is the recent launch of the Embrace project which is using storytelling to understand the lived experiences and needs of families in Bettws and find ways of improving community wellbeing and resilience.

It builds on the results of a survey of Bettws parents in 2020 which showed that less than half felt the community’s mental health was good and recent discussions with families who said they found it hard to access support for their children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The article details how one of the asks from parents was peer to peer spaces where they could share their stories and experiences.

The Embrace project, which started in June 2022 and is funded by Save the Children Cymru, brings together three groups of eight to 12 families with children under the age of seven to share what’s been tough, what’s been positive and what could be done better to ensure a brighter future.

The groups meet once a month and both the facilitators (Bettws ELC and Platfform) and families record the stories and learning shared.

The aim is to create a social connection and support within the community and take sustainable actions that will improve mental health, wellbeing and resilience in Bettws.

Rebecca Thomas, Bettws ELC Lead, Save the Children Cymru, said, “It’s time to explore what today’s children and families need and how to redesign our approach and services to better help them. We hope this project will contribute to this development.”

‘Unlocking the system: Place-based ways of working with children, their families and a neighbourhood psychologist in Bettws, Wales’ is written by Dr Jen Daffin, Community Clinical Psychologist, Platfform, Rebecca Thomas, Bettws ELC Lead, Save the Children Cymru and Siobhan Parry, Head of Service – Children and Young People, Platfform.

To read the Clinical Psychology Forum article in full please click here and you can find out more about the Embrace project on our website Building resilient children in Bettws: reflections on working in a trauma-informed way – Bettws Early Learning Community (bettwselc.org.uk)

World Mental Health Day is happening on Monday 10 October 2022. The theme for this year, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and they’re asking people to look after ‘Number 1’ when it comes to their mental health.

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