"Containing the Network": Referrers’ Experiences of the Community Forensic CAMHS Consultation and Liaison Model

The consultation and liaison model of Forensic CAMHS, from the perspectives of referring professionals was explored in this recently published research paper by CORC Research leads Jenna Jacob and Julian Edbrooke-Childs, along with Hannah Merrick, Rebecca Lane, Liz Cracknell, Angelika Labno, Sophie D’Souza and Oliver White.

Between 2018-2020, we were commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to evaluate Community Forensic CAMHS (F:CAMHS), which was led by Prof. Julian Edbrooke-Childs (see our final evaluation report here).

Since then, we have used the data we collected to explore key research topics, such as the characteristics of children and young people referred to Community F:CAMHS and the experiences of parents and carers of support provided by Community F:CAMHS. This latest publication supplements the previous research by presenting the findings from the analysis of interviews we conducted with referring professionals.

You can download the full article here:

"Containing the Network" research

There is a unique challenge of effectively coordinating help in the context of the complexity that arises when young people have multiple co-morbidities, are assessed as high risk of harm to themselves or others, and the resultant involvement of multiple agencies. Community F:CAMHS are services that provide specialist support to children and young people, parents and carers, and the networks around them. Specifically, Community F:CAMHS provide mental health consultation, advice, assessment, and limited intervention. More information about Community F:CAMHS can be found here.

We interviewed 34 referring professionals, who had been in contact with Community F:CAMHS in England, between 2019 and 2020. We analysed the interview transcripts thematically, and generated twelve subthemes that speak to referrers experiences of Community F:CAMHS, the impact on the network surrounding the child, and the perceived impact on young people, parents and carers.

Our findings suggest that the Community F:CAMHS model of consultation and liaison is effective in co-ordinating, and providing authoritative advice to professionals from a range of agencies. Community F:CAMHS’ capacity to manage anxiety in the professional network is likely helped by the one-step-removed position afforded in the consultative role, in which Community F:CAMHS practitioners might themselves be less impacted by the inevitable anxiety experienced when working closely with young people in complex situations. The effect of this reduced anxiety in the professional network enables professionals to plan more effectively, consider multiple perspectives and to make sense of complexity.

The ability of Community F:CAMHS to adopt a position of authority that was trusted in the professional network was seen to enable professionals to feel more empowered, and professional networks to develop clearer, more co-ordinated and robust risk management plans. Referring professionals generally described Community F:CAMHS as a consultation service for when they were unsure of what next steps to take. This was particularly true when a young person did not meet thresholds for other services, but the referrer had concerns about the risk of harm. Community F:CAMHS was also described as providing support to further understand difficulties to either enable the delivery of the best support or to explore onward referral options.

We are hopeful that this paper provides considerations and guidance about models of liaison and consultation about children and young people for whom there are elevated levels of concern.

If you'd like to get in touch regarding this research, or would like to conduct research in any of the following areas, please get in touch:

  • Arts, creative, sports and non-specialist approaches to enhancing and promoting mental health and wellbeing
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Tracking outcomes and impact of services provided
  • Preventative mental health interventions in education settings


Our use of cookies

CORC is using functional cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set optional cookies (performance cookies). We don’t use marketing cookies that display personalised ads for third party advertisers.

Essential & functional cookies

Essential and functional cookies make our website more usable, enabling functions like page navigation, security, accessibility and network management. You may disable these through your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Performance cookies

These remember your preferences and help us understand how visitors interact with our website. We would like to set Google Analytics cookies which will collect information that does not identify you. If you are happy for us to do this, please click “I’m ok with cookies”.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use and how they work, please see our Cookies Policy: https://www.corc.uk.net/privacy-policy/