Vicki Dunham – Practice development manager
I qualified as a social worker over 20 years ago, and have spent all my career working with children, young people and their families – with homeless young people, young people at risk of offending, children in care, and for the last 15 years in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). All these roles involved providing individual support to children and families who were often deeply impacted by social inequality and deprivation.
I spent 8 years working in a CAMHS social care team (working with children in care, adopted, or at risk), providing individual and family-based therapy to the most socially disadvantaged children and young people in our community. As outcomes for these children remained significantly poor, it became clear to me that a more systemic, socially informed approach was required.
I then led the CAMHS Primary Mental Health Team where my focus shifted from individual specialist therapy to mobilising the whole system to support children’s emotional well-being, based on the principle that ‘mental health is everyone’s business’. This work included supporting schools to develop their whole school approach to emotional wellbeing, working with community organisations to offer early support, and resilience training for parents.