The mental health and help-seeking behaviour of children and young people in care in Northern Ireland: Making services accessible and engaging

Montserrat Fargas-Malet, Dominic Mc Sherry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Largely as a result of early adverse experiences, children and young people in care are more likely to suffer from mental health difficulties than their peers. Despite these difficulties, they tend to find it hard to seek help and engage with professional services to address their needs. In Northern Ireland, the Mind Your Health study collected data for 233 children and young people in care through phone interviews with their carers, and 25 of these young people were interviewed. Focus groups with professionals were also carried out. According to their carers, 35% had diagnosed emotional difficulties, and 36% scored in the abnormal range for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire’s emotional symptoms scale. Carers described difficulties in accessing mental health services for young people, due to lengthy waiting lists, a lack of information offered, and a lack of effort to engage them. Young people found it difficult to engage with these services because of their feelings of stigma, embarrassment, insecurity, guilt and fear. Some felt unable to seek help even from their families and friends. We recommend that mental health services are made more locally accessible, waiting times are reduced, with a greater emphasis on proactive outreach work.
LanguageEnglish
Pages578-595
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume48
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Fingerprint

Northern Ireland
Caregivers
Mental Health
mental health
Mental Health Services
Guilt
Waiting Lists
Focus Groups
health service
Fear
Emotions
Interviews
lack
guilt
Health
Help-Seeking Behavior
anxiety
questionnaire
interview
health

Keywords

  • Mental health; foster care; support; young people; Looked After

Cite this

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