How was the wellbeing of care-experienced young people in Wales supported in the Coronavirus pandemic?
Young people who have been in care are at increased risk of poor wellbeing and mental ill-health. There are range of programmes and services that aim to offer support, but the majority of these are delivered in-person.
The Coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns and restrictions prompted a move from these face-to-face interactions to more remote forms of engagement that relied on telephone or online contact. This had consequences for the type and frequency of mental health and wellbeing services and interventions that were available to care-experienced children and young people and their foster and kinship carers.
This study was funded by the TRIUMPH Network and involved researchers from Cardiff University, Voices from Care Cymru and the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (CSO) Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, and partners from The Fostering Network in Wales. The study explored the views and experiences of online mental health and wellbeing provision among young people, carers, and health and social care professionals in Wales during the Coronavirus pandemic. The participants discussed the strengths and challenges of online and in-person services and offered recommendations for future practice and interventions.
The findings from the study noted some benefits of online mental health and wellbeing services and interventions for care-experienced children and young people, including accessibility, privacy and being able to engage or disengage remotely without the pressures of face-to-face interactions. However, accessibility, a lack of privacy and the format of online interactions were also cited as some of the challenges of remote forms of contact. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of online versus in-person contact were complex and intertwined.
This complexity reflects the important point that care-experienced children and young people are not a uniform group. Rather, care-experienced young people need to be seen as individuals and to be afforded a choice about the provision of health and wellbeing interventions that best support their particular needs and requirements. The study report offered recommendations in six key areas, research; training; awareness and access; resources; choices and flexibility; safety, and protection and risk. The findings of this report aim to support improvement of both remote and face-to-face services and interventions to support the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced children and young people as we move beyond the restrictions of the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are interested in finding more about this study, you can download and read the full report:
Mannay, D., Boffey, M., Cummings, A., Cunningham, E., Davies, B, Stabler, L., Vaughan, R., Wooders, C. and Evans, R. 2022. The strengths and challenges of online services and interventions to support the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced children and young people: A study exploring the views of young people, carers, and social care professionals in Wales during the Coronavirus pandemic. Cardiff: The Fostering Network in Wales.