Gap creates risk for young people with mental health problems

Oct 11, 2010

Many young people with mental health problems are at risk of falling through a huge gap in provision when they move from adolescent to adult care services, according to new research from the University of Warwick.

A team led by Professor Swaran Singh at Warwick Medical School looked at the transition from child services to adult and found for the vast majority of users the move was “poorly planned, poorly executed and poorly experienced”.

In a study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, the research team looked at 154 service users who were crossing the boundary from child to adult mental health services. They followed the sample group for one year to examine their experiences.

Of the cohort of 154, only 58% made the transition to adult mental health services. The researchers found that individuals with a history of severe mental illness, being on medication or having been admitted to hospital were more like to make a transition than those with neurodevelopmental disorders, emotional/neurotic disorders and emerging personality disorder. The research team also found that a fifth of all actual referrals that crossed the boundary to adult mental health services in this study were discharged without being seen.

Professor Singh said: “Despite adolescence being a risk period for the emergence of serious mental disorders, substance misuse, other risk-taking behaviours and poor engagement with health services, mental health provision is often patchy during this period. By following a paediatric-adult split, mental health services introduce discontinuities in care provision where the system should be most robust. Often for the vast majority the transition from child to adult mental health services is poorly planned, poorly executed and poorly experienced.”

The team found that information transfer between child and adult mental health services was hampered by a lack of understanding of each other’s services, inconsistent documentation, different systems used for transfer of electronic information and transfer of referrals to lengthy waiting lists during which time dialogue between mental health professionals on each side was reduced.

Professor Singh added: “Where possible case notes should follow the young person and detailed referral letters, including risk assessments, should be sent to adult mental health services to facilitate planning. We need to ensure that the vital need for improving youth mental health is not ignored for fear of dismantling long-standing and yet unhelpful service barriers. “

Explore further: Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

More information: The paper, ‘Process, outcome and experience of transition from child to adult mental healthcare: multiperspective study’ is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (2010) 197, 307-312.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mental health woes grow while spending declines

Jul 15, 2010

As the current global economic crisis drives up the demand for mental health care services, cash-strapped agencies are slashing mental health budgets, according to a new Brandeis University study out this month in the International Jo ...

Research investment failing mental health

Oct 03, 2008

More money and effort needs to be directed to understanding the causes and treatment of mental disorders to ensure improvements in the health of the community and the one in five people that experience mental illness in any ...

Childhood mental health problems blight adult working life

Apr 03, 2008

Mental health problems in childhood blight adult working life, suggests research published ahead of print in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. And problems in working life are associated with mid life depression and an ...

Recommended for you

Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

10 hours ago

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person's life affect cognitive abilities and th ...

Facial features are the key to first impressions

10 hours ago

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such ...

User comments : 0