Giving children the best support


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Support vulnerable families to improve life chances of their children and reduce likelihood of needing longer-term mental health support.

Delivery date:

  • July 2018

To do this we will:

  • train frontline staff, such as  health visitors and school nurses,  to identify children showing signs of behavioural disorders and be able to refer children and family members for expert support
  • train primary school teachers and teaching assistants to run courses for parents to provide them with advice and skills to help families manage challenging behaviour.

It is better for people because:

  • early action means children and families can benefit from support to reduce the impact of challenging behaviour
  • children who are helped earlier do better at school, are healthier and are less likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system later in life
  • parents will have extra skills and support to build stronger relationships with their children
  • teachers and assistants will have additional skills to better manage behaviour that challenges in the classroom, freeing up more time for teaching.

It is better for the health and care system because:

  • early action will mean less demand for children’s mental health services to respond to conduct disorder or similar behaviour
  • there will be less stress-related illness for families and health professionals
  • our action means less pressure on other health services in future as fewer children will develop further health problems because of behavioural issues.

Key facts:

  • challenging behaviour, sometimes known as conduct disorder, is the most common mental health issue in childhood and adolescence, affecting one-in-20 of children aged five-15
  • conduct disorder causes disruption to families and creates demand on a number of public services, including child and adolescent mental health services, the wider health and social care systems, education (particularly special-needs education), and the criminal justice system
  • conduct disorder in childhood is associated with worse outcomes in adult life, including increased rates of mental illness, unemplyment and criminal activity.

Expected outcomes:

  • frontline staff trained to promote positive mental health in children and young people, identify early signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and are aware of how to refer parents and families for expert support
  • parents of children at high risk of developing conduct disorder receive high quality parent training
  • improvement in the behaviour of children with early signs and symptoms of conduct disorder.