Children and young people's mental health and emotional wellbeing (health and wellbeing needs in South Tyneside)


Mental health and emotional wellbeing (MHEW) are a very important part of general health and wellbeing. The mental health and emotional wellbeing of children is especially important as this ultimately can shape the life chances and outcomes for that child into adulthood (Marmot, 2010) [1].

MHEW are highly complex issues. They are difficult to describe, define and measure. They are issues that can be the result of a variety of social, environmental, family and individual factors, but they can also be the cause of additional ill health and even death.

A commonly accepted definitions of MHEW is:

'A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.' (World Health Organisation, 2014) [2]

The WHO (World Health Organisation) definition of mental health and emotional well-being is particularly appropriate in childhood and adolescence, as mental health is the foundation of healthy development and mental health problems at this life stage can have adverse and long-lasting effects (Murphy and Fonagy, 2012) [3].

We know that South Tyneside has consistently poorer health and wellbeing outcomes across a range of health behaviours, illnesses, disabilities and early deaths when compared with England and other similar areas. We will never precisely know how much of our current health burden is attributable to issues people experienced in childhood, but we are increasingly understanding that it is emotional health and wellbeing of children is a leading priority when trying to improve self-efficacy and the health of the South Tyneside Population, reduce health inequalities, and reduce demand now and in the future for health and social care services. In particular, healthy social and emotional development in babies and toddlers is important as it is the "building block(s) for healthy behaviour and educational attainment" in the future and helps to prevent behavioural problems and mental illness (NICE, 2012)[4].

We do know, for example, that people with mental ill health use more emergency hospital care than those without mental ill health; over three times more accident and emergency (A&E) attendances and nearly five times more emergency inpatient admissions (Dorning, Davies and Blunt, 2015) [5].

South Tyneside has recognised MHEW of children and young people for some time and there is a local strategy to help prevent the development of MHEW issues and support children and families as appropriate with evidence-based services. South Tyneside has also produced a partnership transformation plan in line with the ambition set out by the Department of Health and NHS England in Future in Mind [6]. Future in Mind clearly sets out the standards and services that must be in place to promote, protect and improve our children and young people's mental health and wellbeing.

South Tyneside Council People Select Committee held a Commission on the Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing of Children and Young People. The final Commission Report was published on 27 April 2015 and presented to South Tyneside Council's Cabinet on 17 June 2015 [7]. The People Select Committee report recommended a further needs assessment is conducted to understand the mental health needs of children and young people in South Tyneside for inclusion in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for 2016 / 17.

This needs assessment has been conducted in partnership with South Tyneside CCG (STCCG), Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (NTW), South Tyneside Foundation Trust, Third Sector organisations, South Tyneside Council and the Young People's Parliament.

This needs assessment attempts to draw together the most up-to-date information on:

  • population risk factors and indicators that relate to causal or contributory factors for MHEW problems in children and young people, including issues around use of the internet/ social media and Self Harm.
  • the prevalence and incidence of mental health conditions in children and young people and the resulting harms,
  • local service provision and support for MHEW, not just in specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) but across the range of universal and targeted settings available to children and their families,
  • The local views of children and young people on the local approach to MHEW and the services that are available to them.

This information will be used by the Health and Wellbeing Board and Children and Families Board to inform the development of the local prevention and early help services, implement the MHEW strategy, transform local services, and inform Commissioning Plans for 2016 / 17 and beyond.