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Growing up strong

Growing up strong

Posted by: Dale Meller | 03 October 2018| Categories: Team News , Reports

Growing up strong – the mental health and wellbeing of care experienced children and young people.

Aileen Blower, new member of the Forum, talks about how we can help to support the mental health and wellbeing of care experienced children and young people.

"We’ve all been young – and most of us have helped bring up, support or teach children. So how do we know when a child or young person doesn’t feel well, or isn’t being cared for properly?

There can be many reasons why children are looked after in care settings for some or most of their lives. Some lose parents through death or illness. Others need extra help from professionals if their families are struggling. One in a hundred children in Scotland are ‘looked after’ in some form or another and this means that many of us are care experienced.

Childrens’ experiences of care are as individual and interesting as they are. Some feel homesick or suffer abuse. Others get a chance to feel safe and enjoy childhood.  Many children and young people cope well with being looked after in another home. They go to school and play, they do sports, they go to clubs just like any young person. Some are confident and friendly, others are shy. Some have difficulties – just the same as children looked after by their birth families. And common problems occur regularly – in any family or home.

No matter how or where a child is brought up, they may experience a range of health or emotional problems. There is nothing different about care experienced children. They might have allergies, autism, anorexia, “ADHD” or asthma. They may suffer from depression or diabetes, psychosis or psoriasis. Children living in care may wet the bed, have toothache or be scared of spiders.

Some of these conditions are easy to spot and help – some not. We need to know if a care experienced child is unwell so that they can get the help they need. How can we find out?  

If we know the child well, we can simply ask them. And be prepared for what they might tell or show us in various ways. Care experienced children can also tell and show us what they are good at and proud of. We have a lot to learn, we just need to listen.

One thing we have learned from many care experienced people of all ages at the Forum, is that they would like a chance to tell their story. To be heard and respected, to have their experiences acknowledged.

Do you have anything to say about your care experience? We are ready to listen, so contact us at the National Confidential Forum. Together we can shine a light on care."

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