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Users' views of looked after children's mental health services

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Abstract:

This study by Alison Beck explores the views of young people in the care of Lambeth local authority, and those of their carers, about the young people's mental health and their access to and experience of mental health services. It is associated with a separate study which used a quantitative design to clarify mental health needs in the same population (Beck, forthcoming) and which identified two particularly disadvantaged subgroups: young people living out of the borough and young people who moved their placements frequently. Their views are considered separately, where relevant, in this paper.

The main methodology was a postal questionnaire survey comprising open-ended questions. The results highlighted a number of themes: young people tended to identify internal emotional problems while their carers predominantly focused on externally visible problem behaviours; young people generally valued contact with social workers but reported this lacking; both groups of respondents described barriers to accessing mental health services. These included physical obstacles, such as distance to travel, as well as psychological barriers such as the belief that only 'mad' people use such services. A two-limbed service model is proposed to address the needs of young people in local authority care incorporating: provision by mental health professionals of information about mental health services and liaison between all parties to secure appropriate services; and mental health interventions aimed at engaging young people with local CAMHS.

Keywords: LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN; MENTAL HEALTH; QUALITATIVE; SERVICE USER

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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