Let’s Talk About Children in Europe: A successful start for national implementations  

Let’s Talk about Children (LTC) is a short evidence-based, child-centred psychosocial intervention to promote the mental health of children and prevent intergenerational problems by identifying strengths, resources and everyday solutions for children, parents, teachers, and the network of families. The project is headed by the University of Turku with the co-leadership of Mental Health Europe on selected actions. 

The project had its general kick-off in Helsinki in February 2023. Since then, the national partner organisations have been working on implementing the activities in their respective countries. Numerous actors have already been engaged as the LTC projects keeps gaining attention from stakeholders all across the mental health and educational field.  

Click on the partner organisation’s name to read their latest news.

The Italian team of Associazione Contatto and Niguarda Hospital started their activity  in June 2023?  They held a successful national kick-off meeting in Milan, titled “Children: let’s talk! An approach to work with parenthood in Mental Health Centers.” The event garnered significant attention with an attendance of   approximately  130 participants.   Notably, it received the patronage of the Authority for Children and Adolescents and the Register of Psychologists of Lombardia, underscoring the relevance of the project and the unwavering commitment of the mental health community to support its successful implementation. 

The Let’s Talk About Children project relies on a strong cooperation between mental health services and service users, including the project’s target audience. The team from Milan decided to highlight the importance of this cooperation with two further initiatives: a photo exhibition featuring drawings made by children living in families where a parent has mental health issues, including a brief explanation of their own drawings, and a video from the perspective of a child talking about her feelings when no one talks to her about her mother’s mental health issues.  

Associazione Contatto and Ospedale Niguarda are now focused on the organisation of two upcoming meetings in September with mental health workers from several hospitals, LTC trainings from September to December, and co-organised activities with the Municipality of Milan for World Mental Health Day, on the 10th of October 2023.  

The Sicily-based organisation CEIPES proved its commitment to improving the well-being of children and families in Europe already in the early stages of the project.  

The team has eagerly worked towards the organisation of the local kick-off meeting and the first training day for practitioners took place at its headquarters on 18-19 September 2023. The kick-off meeting attracted the attention and the participation of prominent figures from the social and mental health sector, who were thrilled to be part of the project’s inaugural event.  

Their insights shed light on the mental health challenges in Sicily and on how healthcare and educational systems in the region are responding to emerging needs.  

As part of the first training, CEIPES has successfully recruited a diverse group of professionals, including psychologists, pedagogists, psychiatric rehabilitation experts, and primary school teachers. Eager to learn new techniques and methodologies, these professionals work tirelessly with children, adolescents, and families, and are excited to implement their newfound knowledge into their daily work. 

In Czech Republic, the Centre for Mental Health Care Development has already established cooperation with six mental health care organisations interested in training their staff and implementing the LTC method during the preparation of the project application. The CMHCD cooperated with the organisations interested in the LTC project for the preparation of the kick-off meeting which took place on Children’s Day at the Municipal Library in Prague. The opening session featured the author and creator of the LTC intervention Tytti Solantaus, along with two other Czech experts working with families in mental health care, and a peer family worker who shared her own experience from the perspective of a child growing up with a mother with a mental health issue.  

The kick-off meeting was attended by 69 mental health care workers, psychologists, workers of the department of social legal protection of children as well as organisations that support children and families. I It was immediately followed by the first LTC training. 

The project is running smoothly in the Czech Republic, with additional online training sessions scheduled before the end of the year. Starting from the end of September, participants will conduct their initial LTC discussions with their clients and then consult with trainers and other participants in supervision sessions – an exciting and constructive step in the LTC implementation.  

The implementation of the LTC project in Portugal has already  received extensive coverage by national news and television, thanks to the great work of the team of the Universidade de Coimbra and the Centro Hospitalar e Universitario de Coimbra EPE. Three different press releases have been issued, generating a coverage of more than 70 published news.  

The national kick-off seminar is planned for the 13th of October, marking the official launch of the project in Portugal. The author Tutty Solantaus will be present introducing the LTC intervention, history and learnings. The kick-off will be followed by the first LTC training session on the 14th of October involving healthcare professionals, teachers and social workers.  

This dedicated work became possible thanks to the early formation of the national Advisory Board, which is composed of national entities and selected personalities with relevant field work and visibility whose main goal is to supervise and align the project mission, ambition and outcomes.   

The Polish partners held their LTC kick-off event in September, concentrating now to the core of the implementation phase. More news soon.

MIELI Mental Health Finland has been a pioneer in the implementation of the LTC method, continually expanding its reach by promoting, strengthening, and raising awareness across the whole country. The organisation has a well-established network of more than 600 trainers nationwide who regularly participate in the yearly MIELI homebase trainer’ meetings to update their skills and strengthen their network. The high quality of the work done in the previous years has not stopped MIELI from taking even further steps since the LTC EU project kick-off in February 2023. 

The organisation participated in Finland’s largest substance abuse two-day event for social and health professionals where over 100 people participated in the seminar “Let´s talk about Children – work in the prevention of the intergenerational problems.” Additionally, MIELI hosted online seminars to support LTC practitioners, including “LTC as a tool for bringing up the difficult subjects” and “Steps a to successful LTC discussion”.  On the 10th of October, MIELI will hold their official national LTC kick-off event titled “What children and young people need to thrive?” in collaboration with the Finnish institute of Health and Welfare.   

Among the numerous material produced to support the learnings, MIELI is currently working on LTC picture cards for discussions, along with blog texts and podcasts expected to be completed in the autumn.   

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens is currently preparing for the national kick-off meeting and the initial training session of LTC, scheduled for the 24th and 25th of November 2023.  

The kick-off meeting will convene a multi-stakeholder participatory engagement process by bringing together prominent scientific and institutional partners, from the mental health and educational sectors. This inter-disciplinary approach will take on the challenge of modeling the impact of LTC in (primary) educational settings, as well as paving the way for a common understanding for its implementation on a national level.  

NKUA has been actively implementing a comprehensive strategy to maximise the dissemination and communication of the LTC. In order to enhance LTC’s scientific and policy impact on institutional and societal level, the team has targeted schoolteachers, mental health professional, parents and policy makers, with strong emphasis on the engagement of governmental institutions.  

NKUA is continuously and effectively working to ensure the maximum level of engagement and commitment within the framework of LTC and seeks to support and expand mental health promotion for children and their families at both national and European levels. 

The Romanian team started the LTC work by identifying relevant professional organisations and associations to engage in the project, such as the Romanian Association of Psychiatrist and Psychotherapists, the Romanian Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy, and other relevant national stakeholders. This process has resulted in a list of seven key actors who could potentially serve as members in the national Advisory Board – a necessary element for the long-term sustainability of the project.  

In order to maximise the implementation of the LTC project in Romania, the team has compiled an extensive database of universities, psychotherapy schools, NGOs, mental health hospitals, community mental health centers, representatives of the Ministry of Health, representatives of the Ministry of Education, school counsellors, teachers, general practitioners and other crucial players for the successful adoption of LTC methodology in the country.   

The kick-off seminar is scheduled on the 2nd of November, with the first day of training following on the next day – both to be held in Bucharest. A national awareness campaign has been developed and will be deployed to support the preparation of the kick-off seminar in November. 

The implementation of LTC in Estonia focused on the creation of a steering group tasked with designing a national strategy to align LTC to the specific national context before starting to plan events and trainings. Five development days were scheduled, three of which already took place in the first half on the year. Once the strategy development is finalised, the organisation plans the creation of a nation-wide LTC working group.  

In the meantime, the NGO Peaasjad has been actively engaging with interested stakeholders to discuss opportunities for cooperation, as well as expectations and barriers related to the expansion of the LTC methodology in Estonia.  

The kick-off seminar has been scheduled for the 5th of October as part of a larger Conference on Mental Health in Tallinn, with the possibility to join online.  During this seminar, the results of the development days will be presented to the audience.  

Exciting times for Let’s Talk About Children in Europe 

All the countries involved in the implementation of Let’s Talk About Children are set for exciting months ahead, where most trainings will be held, and the application of the method will be followed up with feedback, adaptation and improvements. 

For more information, you can visit the official website of Let’s Talk About Children