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Sussex professor welcomes major new UK government policy

Professor Gordon Harold

A major new government policy with vital input from researchers at the University of Sussex was announced today by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Damian Green, and welcomed by the Sussex academic who will work with the government on its implementation.

Professor Gordon Harold, Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the University of Sussex, has been working with the (DWP) on research around evidence-based family support interventions, which has in turn led to a new approach from the government.

The DWP paper, Improving lives: Helping workless families, was influenced heavily by the research conducted by Professor Harold and the Early Intervention Foundation and takes on a number of proposals made regarding the importance of evidence-based interventions in improving the long term outcomes of workless families and their children.

As a result of his research, the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Troubled Families programme will aim to embed this focus on evidence-based intervention into the next phase of action, rolling the programme out nationwide to ensure that the parents and children of workless families are sufficiently supported by local authorities.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Professor Harold said: "The announcement made today by the Secretary of State Damian Green and the DWP regarding evidence-based family support interventions constitutes a substantial step in the right direction when it comes to supporting couples and parents with the most significant of responsibilities - promoting children's mental health, educational opportunities and future life chances.

“This announcement is based on our research at the University of Sussex into how inter-parental relationships, whether parents are living together or not, significantly affects children's mental health across all ages.

“We welcome the move to support parents from an early stage and believe it will pay significant long-term dividends for children and future families, with a particular focus on supporting the needs of parents and children who experience economic disadvantage."

The research was supported by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and Professor Harold has written a blog to mark the release of the policy paper, discussing in further depth the positive effect mental health research can have on children, young people and families. 

By: Patrick Reed
Last updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2017