A Report on 0-5 years-old children’s emotional wellbeing in OxfordshireDownload (PDF 806KB)
Summary of report content
Healthwatch Oxfordshire undertook research into parents’ and carers’ view of understanding and support for mental health and wellbeing of pre-school children, age 0-5 in response to conversations with both parents, carers, and childcare professionals, who felt there was a gap in awareness, understanding and support for mental health and wellbeing in preschool children. They received 63 responses to their online survey of parents with an additional 16 responses to supplementary questions from childcare professionals working with this age group.
The results give a snapshot of parents and carers’ understanding about this important issue, including views on mental health, awareness of support available, and views on gaps in provision. Comments from families support the understanding that mental health and wellbeing of 0-5s is integral to wellbeing of the family as a whole.
Families highlighted need for clear signposting, central information and advice about mental health and wellbeing in 0-5s, including local services, and online support. There is scope for improving awareness of existing services and resources such as Oxfordshire Family Information Service. In addition to clear signposting, and online support, families valued face to face support from professionals, peers and childcare settings in providing a trusted source of advice, help and relationship.
Families noted that stigma, fear of being judged or not being taken seriously could act as barriers to them seeking help. In contrast, they valued support that was timely, person centred, non-judgemental, and supportive. There is room for more support, training and awareness for childcare workers, health professionals and parents on understanding and supporting mental health and wellbeing in 0-5s.
Covid-19 has had an impact on mental health and wellbeing of both parents and young children in multiple ways- which may continue to become clear over time. Health Visitors and GPs are valued for being first point of contact for support, advice and assessment. They provide a route to express worries without feeling judged. Concern noted about impact of temporary redeployment of health visitors during Covid-19, on parents’ ability to seek support.
Unfortunately, the survey launch coincided with the Covid-19 lockdown, and as a result it has been challenging to distribute surveys and build responses, and reach seldom heard communities, as all childcare settings closed. Healthwatch Oxfordshire had also planned a focused piece of work with families at The Sunshine Centre in Banbury, Ruscote- but this has been delayed. As a result, this report does not contain recommendations, but highlights key points, which we hope will be of use to services that commission and provide support to early years children and families. Whilst not ideal, we felt that it was important to share responses here, which give insight into some of the barriers faced by parents and carers and highlight current and future mental health challenges exacerbated by Covid-19 itself.