Mental health and wellbeing is one of the Government’s most pressing concerns around young people.
It is widely known that emotional and behavioural problems can be detrimental to the life chances of children and young people.
Gender differences in children and young people’s mental health have been observed and researched, and awareness of gender diversity is increasing. There is growing concern around issues such as girls' well-being and self-esteem, young male suicide, and the experiences of trans children and young people.
Our project aimed to explore and gather evidence, practice examples and young people’s views on these issues ways that could inform policy and practice. It involved three elements.
Reviewing the evidence
In 2016, we undertook a rapid review of evidence on how gender relates to children and young people's coping strategies and help-seeking behaviours, and adult responses to their mental health needs.
Sharing promising practice
Our collection of promising practice examples gathered from our extensive networks was updated in August 2017. Aimed at decision-makers, service providers and practitioners, it features practice that explicitly addresses gender as a relevant factor when supporting children and young people’s mental health and emotional well-being.
Seeking and sharing young people views
Over 100 young people contributed their views on gender, mental health and emotional well-being by taking part in focus groups and online surveys in 2016-2017. Our report of findings from young people includes policy and practice recommendations from the project as a whole. We have also explained key learning points from this engagement work in a mini-report and two-page summary for young people.
What we learnt
We found that gender plays an influential role in all aspects of children and young people’s lives, from the relationships they form, the stressors and difficulties they face to whether and how they seek emotional support. Therefore, gender needs active consideration in policy-making, commissioning, service design and delivery, workforce development and research. This is important in relation to mental health services for children and young people, but also other settings and systems that impact on their health and well-being, such as schools. The report on findings from young people includes the most detailed recommendations for policy and practice.
This project was undertaken in 2016-2017 as part of NCB’s role as Health and Care Voluntary Sector Strategic Partner. Our work on gender dimensions in mental health is a springboard for wider conversation.
NCB continues to work on a wide range of issues and projects relevant to children and young people’s mental and emotional health and well-being. For example, we are proud to host the Partnership for Well-being and Mental Health in Schools which works with a national network of more than 50 leading organisations to improve the well-being and mental health of all children in education.