Addressing Adversity in Birmingham

We were so proud to share our work with schools, families and young people in Birmingham in Addressing Adversity: Young Minds’ important work on understanding and responding to adverse childhood experiences.

The launch of this report feels like an exciting moment as people across sectors come together to share a common vision. We want to build stronger, trusted relationships with young people and families so that we can more effectively address young people’s mental health issues. We know the importance of collaborative working across difference services that interact with children and their families and we want to utilise the relationship of schools young people and families in more effectively addressing young people’s mental health issues. The case studies in this report celebrate, inform and advise on these points and more.

But a key point that must not be overlooked is the depth of expertise and resilience within the families that we work with. There is a – perhaps understandable – tendency to approach mental health and multiple complex needs from a deficit perspective. A strong part of the Pathfinder is to encourage and develop opportunities to create a Shared Authority, whereby parents and young people can be part of the solution, intervention, support and advice for families in crisis, but can also inform and steer policy and wider systems change.

The Pathfinder Project is starting to influence cultural shifts across participating schools to adopt a more Tri-Partite approach involving education, health and social care within the school communities. But the project is also influencing cultural change on a meta-scale of ‘reimagining’ Children Service/Health/Education/Criminal Justice approaches, looking beyond crisis intervention and even early interventions to a strengthening communities model.

Finally, we believe one of the greatest strengths of the Pathfinder is the fact that we are a part of one of the biggest Local Authorities in Europe. Many participants in the debate on Addressing Adversity worry about the good practice that is isolated in small organisations and unable to influence wider change. We hope the Birmingham Pathfinder offers a valuable test-bed on how to bring forward wider systems change thinking and application to young people and families mental health responses across the UK.