Tom Currie, Outcomes Star’s Implementation Lead, shares his thoughts after attending Oxfordshire Youth’s Youth in Mind conference.
It was a real pleasure to spend a day at Youth in Mind, the annual conference about young people and their mental health. The event was beautifully hosted by Oxfordshire Youth and Oxfordshire Mind with 400 delegates and a wide range of presenters from a diverse mix of organisations speaking on several subjects. But one thing that kept coming up in the talks, demonstrations and workshops was the importance of relationships in supporting young people to maintain optimal mental health.
Relationships: a key component
Whether it was Rowen Smith and Mary Taylor from Family Links talking about resilience and managing difficult emotions, or Julia Belton from Clear Sky describing how she uses play to engage children who had Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), relationships kept being identified as a vital ingredient.
The value of relationships was also highlighted in the Step Out workshops, hosted by two Donnington Doorstep Junior Ambassadors, young people who deliver sessions on Protective Behaviours to year 5 students. These peer led sessions offer yet another example of how you can use the power of relationships to gain credibility and influence with the people you work with. (They were preaching to the converted with me on this one, as I have been a strong advocate for the power of relationships for a few decades.)
What are the vital ingredients of a supportive relationship?
This question came up in my conversation with Julie Belton in the exhibition hall just after her presentation on how to engage children with ACEs. We agreed that many practitioners would probably say that good relationships are at the core of their work but that they may well mean different sorts of relationships. And that makes assuring the quality of those relationships tricky. Luckily some clever people at Search Institute in Minneapolis have done some great work researching and articulating these qualities in their Developmental Relationships Framework, which is free to download.
The Developmental Relationships Framework identifies five elements:
- Express Care – Show me that I matter to you
- Challenge Growth – Push me to keep getting better
- Provide Support – Help me complete tasks and achieve goals
- Share Power – Treat me with respect and give me a say
- Expand Possibilities – Connect me with people and places that broaden my world
Each of these elements is then linked to three to five well defined actions, so it really is a practical, useable framework. I believe the Search Institute are spot on with the balance of the elements they have articulated. If you want to put their theory into your practice, then you could download the framework and start to strengthen these elements in your work.
If you are interested in using a tool that helps provide a structure for four of the elements they identify, and also provides useful evaluation information, then get in touch and we could talk about whether one of the Outcomes Stars for young people would suit your way of working. It would be a pleasure to talk to you about what you are trying to achieve, because all supportive relationships include good conversations.
Speaking of good conversations, I had a great one with Bethia McNeil (CEO of the Centre for Youth Impact), when I saw her a few months ago and she told me about the Supportive Relationships Framework. She knows a thing or two about frameworks having written the seminal Framework of Outcomes for Young People in 2012 as well as its brilliant 2019 sequel, predictively titled: A Framework of Outcomes for Young People 2.0.
If you’d like to talk to Tom following his attendance at the event, please call +44 (0) 20 7272 8765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.