Children with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

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The Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership oversees a number of Northern Ireland wide sub-groups established to take forward integrated planning on a Northern Ireland wide basis, including a regional sub-group on Children and Young People with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD).

‘The term ‘emotional and behavioural difficulties’ covers a wide range of difficulties experienced by many children and young people across Northern Ireland. These include emotional disorders, anxiety, self-harm and suicide. Such difficulties range from those which can be addressed by early intervention – access to supports within the community – to those which need specialist help such as counselling or therapy.’

20141128_120123_subgroupStatutory agencies have specific duties to promote the welfare of children and young people with disabilities, through a number of different pieces of legislation. It is universally agreed that there is a great need for better coordination of supports and services for children and young people with disabilities and their families, but that this has yet to be achieved in Northern Ireland.

Progress to date

The CYPSP Sub Group on Children and Young People with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD) has overseen the development of ‘I-CAMHS’ in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area.

For the first time, the Southern Trust is offering specialist infant mental health intervention within Tier 2 and Tier 3 of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Consistent with the Sub Group’s identified priority on infant mental health, I-CAMHS offers an early intervention service in order to promote the emotional wellbeing and mental health of infants by providing support to develop the relationship between parents and their child.

Infant mental health refers to the social, emotional and intellectual well-being of children aged 0-3 years within the context of their relationship with their carers. Research has proven that parent bonding with their child improves their emotional wellbeing and mental health and creates a foundation of a secure base for later life. What happens in the early years affects the course of the development across the lifespan.

Led by Infant Mental Health Practitioner, Majella Connolly, the I-CAMHS service has been available since October 2012. The service operates at three levels, raising awareness, supporting a range of allied professionals and providing consultation and direct clinical referral. Whilst the long term benefits of the programme remain to be seen, initial results of the programme prove that it is making a demonstrable difference. In one case, a parent reported an 80% increase in the quality of their parent-child relationship.

Chair of the CYPSP Mr Peadar White stated that he was delighted to see the delivery of this unique service and hoped that the models ethos of “early, earlier, earliest intervention” could be replicated across the entire region.

Download the i-CAMHS Leaflet