A free interactive e-learning resource launching today, will help newly qualified professionals working with young people identify when drink and drug addiction may be impacting their healthy development.

'Healthy Development in Young People: for professionals working with substance use in young people' will improve the way youth workers, nurses, social workers and adults working in targeted and specialist substance misuse services work together.

The short online course, developed jointly by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), Public Health England (PHE) and the Cambridgeshire Adolescent Substance Use Service, is made up of seven interactive sessions containing videos, case studies and self-assessments on:

  • Psychological development
  • Social development
  • The legal framework for working with young people
  • Delivering young people friendly substance misuse services
  • Sexually transmitted infections in young people
  • Mental health and well-being in children and young people
  • Sleep problems in adolescence
  • Once the e-learning programme is complete, professionals should be able to:
  • Describe healthy development in children and young people
  • Recognise common physical and mental health problems in children and young people
  • Understand the range of factors that impact on healthy development
  • Make your practice and service young-people friendly

Dr Max Davie, Educational Lead on the project and Consultant Paediatrician for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "More than 20,000 children are misusing drugs and alcohol in England, which puts them at high risk of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, committing crime, or becoming victims of crime themselves.

"To prevent future generations of children becoming a statistic, the RCPCH, PHE and substance misuse support providers have worked together for the first time to produce a resource that helps professionals support young people in all aspects of their health and development. By equipping the workforce with these valuable skills, we hope to address any potential issues before they become a serious problem."

Public Health England Director of Alcohol and Drugs Rosanna O'Connor said: "Any young person affected by drug or alcohol misuse will typically be experiencing a range of complex issues, requiring a package of care to address each problem they face.

"Specialist services exist to help these young people, and this resource aims to guide substance misuse professionals around these wider issues they may need to address - such as mental health and sexual health - as part of a joined up response to a young person's drug or alcohol misuse."