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Early Intervention Key To Healthy Future

20 October 2010

A healthier future for all depends on grasping the opportunity for early intervention with children, according to a University of Ulster researcher.

Early intervention to build resilience in children is essential and to do this we need to adopt a whole child approach, to learn from what works for children, and to invest in resources required.

That is the message that University of Ulster researcher Dr Tony Cassidy will give at a free lecture hosted by the British Psychological Society today.

Dr Cassidy, from Ulster's Psychology Research Institute, says that too much focus is placed on a ‘what went wrong’ attitude and the approach now needs to be shifted to more preventative measures.

In the lecture entitled ‘Child Health and Wellbeing: a walk on the positive Side’, Dr Cassidy says: “Both theory and practice in regard to health and well being of children tends to be reactive and treatment focused. The evidence provides a base for a more proactive, preventative approach that learns from what makes children resilient as much as from what harms them. Despite adversity, the majority of children are not ‘broken’, and their experience is the richest source of information on what can be done to prevent others being damaged, as well as creating the opportunities for providing a more resilient and healthy childhood for all.

“Aspects of childhood like education and health and wellbeing are often treated as separate entities and unrelated. However, we know that a holistic approach is much more relevant. A joined-up method of promoting positive health and well being in children through each aspect of their lives will be much more beneficial.

“A wide range of interventions are indicated, targeting parents, schools and children, and a great deal of good work is being done in NI already. This work needs to be extended, evaluated, and more securely supported. Not only is this work humanly and morally necessary, it is also economically viable and in both the short and long term is possible despite the current economic recession.”

Dr Cassidy¹s lecture takes place at the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast on Wednesday 20 October at 7:30pm.

Dr Cassidy is Director the Children and Young People's Programme in the UNESCO Centre at the University of Ulster. He is also an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and the Psychology Society of Ireland.

His interests in psychology are wide range as evidenced by the fact that he is a founder member of the European Association for Work and Organisational Psychology, the UK Community Psychology Network, the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine, the BPS Division of Health Psychology, the BPS Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology, the Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology, and more recently the Community Psychology Section of the BPS.