Young offenders ' and their families ' experiences of mental health interventions

Publication Date21 December 2015
AuthorAnna Jack,Caroline Lanskey,Joel Harvey
SubjectHealth & social care,Vulnerable groups,Children's services
Young offendersand their families
experiences of mental health interventions
Anna Jack, Caroline Lanskey and Joel Harvey
Anna Jack is based at
Cambridgeshire Youth
Offending Service,
Cambridgeshire County
Council, Cambridge, UK.
Caroline Lanskey is based at
Institute of Criminology,
University of Cambridge,
Cambridge, UK.
Joel Harvey is based at Institute
of Psychiatry, Psychology and
Neuroscience, Kings College
London, London, UK.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the relevance of young peoples experiences of mental
health interventions with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) before and during their time
with youth offending services.
Design/methodology/approach This qualitative interpretive study involved 14 interviews with young
people who had offended, five of their carers and five CAMHS professionals from one local authority.
Findings The paper identifies understanding, recognition, respect and trust as key principles in the
practitioner-young person relationship, and in the intervention process more broadly, and suggests that
systematic consultation with young people and their caregivers about their experience of mental health
interventions would be beneficial. It notes important similarities and differences in the views of the
different parties which shed further light on reasons why a young person may or may not engage with
mental health services.
Research limitations/implications The study is based on a small sample of young people from one
service, but it is hoped that the findings will be a useful springboard for other services to reflect upon.
Practical implications The paper proposes the importance of recognising young peoples agency in the
intervention process and the value of systematic consultation with young people and their caregivers for
securing their engagement in interventions.
Originality/value The study takes a multi-perspective approach (of young people, their carers and
practitioners) to capture the synergies and tensions in the expectations of and interactions between young
people, practitioners and caregivers.
Keywords Engagement, Agency, Young offenders, Consultation,
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Mental health needs
Paper type Research paper
Young people with mental health needs are overrepresented in the youth justice system
(The Mental Health Foundation, 2002; Harrington and Bailey, 2005; Chitsabesan et al., 2006;
Naylor et al., 2008; Khan and Wilson, 2010; Walsh et al., 2011). For example, in their study of
young offenders in custodial and community settings, Harrington and Bailey (2005) found that
31 per cent had mental health needs such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress
disorder and psychosis. Many young offenders will have been referred to generic CAMHS[1]
either before or during their involvement with youth justice. It is also a requirement that
Youth Offending Services (YOS) have a dedicated mental health practitioner for young people
under their supervision.
The effectiveness of mental health provision within Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) has been the
focus of several research studies and inspection reports (Harrington and Bailey, 2005;
MacDonald, 2006; Khan and Wilson, 2010; Care Quality Commission and HMI Probation, 2011).
Received 1 October 2014
Revised 16 March 2015
10 April 2015
Accepted 22 April 2015
The authors would like to thank to
the young people, their family
members and staff who took part
in this research.
DOI 10.1108/JCS-10-2014-0043 VOL. 10 NO. 4 2015, pp. 353-364, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1746-6660
PAG E 35 3

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