efa goes primary…

Emotional First Aid Goes Primary

The way in which young people are supported through emotional issues could be transformed by a new approach to training the children’s workforce which increases their confidence and capability in engaging with children and young people.

Emotional First Aid is the initial response given to a young person experiencing emotional distress before specific professional help is sought and obtained. Emotional First Aid training is directed at professionals who come into contact with children and young people, for example, teachers, youth workers to aid the detection of signs of ‘emotional stuckness’ thereby reducing the risk of more severe disorders, significantly increasing mental health awareness and the potential for early identification and intervention.

Primary Emotional First Aid is a version aimed specifically at professionals working with primary aged children, has just been developed and is being launched nationally in London at the Keeping Children and Young People in Mind: Improving Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Westminster Briefing on the 25th May 2010.

An ‘Emotional First Aiders’ role is to: promote positive emotional health; provide support and reassurance and aid in accessing appropriate services; undertake risk assessment to help prevent harm to self or to / from others; to create a partnership with the young person to find solutions (getting through this together); assist in early detection and intervention; increase knowledge and work to reduce stigma of mental health problems.

Nationally it is estimated that about one in four young people will have a mental health, emotional or behavioral problem sometime in their life. Ten per cent of five to fifteen year olds have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with around 1.1 million

children and young people under eighteen who would benefit from specialist the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). There are up to 45,000 young people with a severe mental health disorder*.

A young person may not have a mental health problem to be experiencing emotional distress. For a young person emotional distress can be heightened as they have less experience of understanding their feelings, and situations are new. It is at this initial stage that support and a listening ear can be most beneficial.

Developed by Stuart Gemmell, Dave Smith and Jacquie Kelly of CAMHS (headed up by Barbara Inkson) Emotional First Aid won the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award at the South Central Health and Social Care Awards 2009. NHS Innovations South East are currently working with the Emotional First Aid team on how to take the training beyond the local region, providing advice on business planning, and the protection of intellectual property.

Emotional First Aid is now moving into a new phase, with 300 Emotional First Aiders already trained, and 40 Emotional First Aid trainers ready to train professionals. To meet growing demand from across the country Emotional First Aid is being launched at the Keeping Children and Young People in Mind: Improving Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Westminster Briefing on the 25th May 2010.

John Stedman of NHS innovations South East said “I am delighted that Emotional First Aid (EFA) is now available across the UK. It is a genuinely important innovation; one with the ability to transform the lives of vulnerable young people without their even being aware of it. EFA helps those who work with young people to recognize – and respond appropriately to – the early signs of potential mental health problems. In so doing, the programme helps ensure that young people experiencing the early symptoms of emotional distress and mental ill-health receive the immediate help they need, thereby reducing the likelihood and seriousness of a full-blown mental health ‘episode’. Clearly, EFA has a great deal to offer the NHS, since it helps ease the pressure on CAMHS and other psychiatric services. I would like to offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to the team behind EFA and to Karen Underwood, at NHS Innovations South East, who has nurtured this project and assisted in its development.

Barbara Inkson, Head of CAMHS, said “We are delighted to announce the launch of Emotional First Aid and Primary Emotional First Aid. It is thanks to the young people who shared their experiences and the Emotional First Aid inventors, Stuart Gemmell, Dave Smith and Jacqui Kelly,that these innovative courses will bring about many benefits in our community including: better recognition of mental disorders, changes in beliefs and attitudes to mental health, and decreased social distance from people with mental illnesses. It will also increase the confidence and ability of people who work with young people in recognizing difficulties and helping to access appropriate help.”

*National Services Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, Department of Health, 2004.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Emotional First Aid course has been informed by the booklet ‘Me & U – a real insight into the emotional experience of a young person today’ a project undertaken by Solent Youth Action, working with young people who have experienced mental health illnesses and made positive steps towards a recovery. Coming together they have shared their ideas and produced a booklet and DVD filled with real emotion, expert understanding and inspirational insight. It aims to teach those who work with young people to recognise the signs of mental illness and to help them learn how to provide support, and encourage the person to seek help. Grish Art (www.grishart.com) originally came on board to design the booklet, and have carried on working with the team to develop a clearly recognisable Emotional First Aid brand. Visit www.emotionalfirstaid.co.uk for more information or email info@emotionalfirstaid.co.uk for further information.

2. Solent Healthcare was created on 1 April 2010 through the integration of Southampton Community Healthcare and Portsmouth Community and Mental Health Services. It is hosted by Southampton City Primary Care Trust and provides community health services throughout Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire. For more information about Solent Healthcare please contact Elton Dzikiti, Assistant Communications Manager, on 023 8060 8934.

3. NHS Innovations South East (NISE), is one of nine similar organizations which make up a national network and was set up to provide a service to improve healthcare by assisting NHS inventors to commercialize their ideas. Innovation managers carry out a thorough assessment of all NHS inventions in order to determine the potential for gaining intellectual property rights, the size, nature and competitiveness of the market, the benefit to patients and Trusts and the potential cost savings for the NHS. This analysis is a mixture of desk-based research and consultation with networks of industry and clinical contacts.

For more information, visit www.innovationssoutheast.nhs.uk


Sally Robinson – Marketing Manager,

NHS Innovations South East 01235 838539 or 07768 302156

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