Who is accessing Community Forensic Child and Adolescent Services Mental Health Services? Our new research highlights needs and gaps
A team of researchers from CORC, EBPU and the Anna Freud Centre explored the characteristics of young people referred to the recently commissioned Community Forensic Child and Adolescent Services (F:CAMHS) in England, and service activity during the first 24 months of service. The study is a national cohort study, and secondary data on 1,311 advice cases and 1,406 referrals are included in the analysis.
The researchers found that over a quarter of young people referred to Community F:CAMHS had not previously been in contact with mainstream CAMHS, despite high proportions of young people in forensic services having unmet mental health needs. They also found that 50.9% had experienced or witnessed multiple traumatic events and 58.4% presented with multiple difficulties, highlighting a need for Community F:CAMHS and other services working with this group of young people to be trauma-informed and developmentally-attuned.
Young people with learning and neurodevelopmental difficulties were overrepresented in the sample compared to the general population, consistent with findings that higher numbers of people with a learning/neurodevelopmental difficulty enter the criminal justice system/forensic services. More girls were referred by mental health services while more boys were referred by or because of the youth justice system, despite exhibiting similar difficulties. Findings also indicate an over-representation of White or White British young people receiving input from Community F:CAMHS when compared to the known over-representation of children and young people from minoritised ethnic backgrounds in the youth justice system, suggesting a specific remit for Community F:CAMHS to ensure they are meeting the mental health needs of young people from minoritised ethnic groups in the community.
Jenna Jacob, Research Lead for CORC, says: “We hope in sharing findings from the data collected as part of the national Community F:CAMHS evaluation, we are able to support several elements of the care provided for children and young people with complex needs. Our next steps include an exploration of the support provided to empower parents and carers; consideration of the unique model of consultation provided by Community F:CAMHS teams; and analysis of the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of the young people who took part in the Community F:CAMHS evaluation. Watch this space!”