Characteristics of Looked After and Adopted Children Referred to a Designated Mental Health Service

Characteristics of Looked After and Adopted Children Referred to a Designated Mental Health Service

Pradeep Rao, Specialist Registrar, Leicestershire CAMHS
Alvina Ali, Specialist Registrar, Leicestershire CAMHS
Panos Vostanis

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Aims: The aims of the study were to establish: a) the characteristics of looked and adopted children of a designated CAMHS team over a period of one year; and b) broad patterns in these referrals and whether these fall within the perceived remit of specialist CAMHS.

Methods: The sample consisted of all referrals made to the team over a period of one year. There were 65 referrals made to the Looked After component and 41 referrals to the Post Adoption component of the team. Each referral was rated by an independent researcher using a semi-structured checklist that contained details of the referrer, the child’s placement and reason for referral. This was followed by documenting the outcome of that referral and the reasons given for accepting or not accepting the case, and the type of intervention provided if accepted. The researcher also opined if there was a clear indication for CAMHS involvement documented in the referral.

Results: Children with psychiatric disorders were accepted by the team, while there was less consistency on decisions related to attachment and behavioural problems, and the role of different agencies.

Conclusions: Child mental health services for vulnerable children such as those in public care or who are adopted need to develop clear care pathways, with definition of agency roles. Consensus on behavioural and attachment problems per se should not justify referral to specialist CAMHS, which would depend on comorbid disorders and risk factors involved.

 

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