Published in Blog by Honor Rhodes, OBE on June 30th 2023
Relationship, families and children’s welfare practitioner Honor Rhodes is experienced in supporting couples and families. Here she outlines how Tavistock Relationships is helping UNICEF to improve the Government’s new Social Determinants Framework for children’s mental health.
A new Social Determinants Framework for children’s mental health is being developed by the Office for Health Improvements & Disparities, part of the Department for Health & Social Care. The Framework will help inform action to address inequality and improve children’s mental health.
The main social and economic circumstances that influence health throughout our lifetimes are known as the ‘social determinants of health’ and, as we would expect, poorer people, and their children, experience worse health outcomes than people who are better off.
What particularly interested us here at Tavistock Relationships, is to ensure the Framework identifies that the quality of how parents or caregivers communicate and relate to each other is a primary influence on effective parenting practices, and children's long-term mental health and future life chancess.
As we know, warm, strong and respectful relationships between parents, living together or apart, creates the emotional environment in which good mental health in babies, children and young people is nurtured.
As we know, warm, strong and respectful relationships between parents, living together or apart, creates the emotional environment in which good mental health in babies, children and young people is nurtured. And we know that the opposite is also true - interparental conflict can damage children’s and young people’s mental health and future life chances.
The draft framework also recognises that where family break-up is associated with high levels of interparental conflict, economic pressures and/or loss of contact with either parent, there may be an adverse impact on children's wellbeing.
Tavistock Relationships is suggesting a number of recommendations to strengthen the Framework. For example, that it recommends or endorses parenting programmes that specifically include relationship and communication learning and support for parents, whether living together or co-parenting apart. We must use the weight of evidence now available to change children’s lives for the better.
For more information about Tavistock Relationships work to reduce parental conflict, go to Reducing Parental Conflict Training.