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Published, 27 November 2019

Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for children in care and care leavers

Barnardo's Scotland has published (26 November 2019) the first in a series of reports drawing attention to the mental health and wellbeing needs of children in care and care leavers.

The report was produced using the experiences of frontline services, and the participation of children and young people, and looks at the roles agencies, practitioners and policy makers can play in implementing positive change.

Using the framework provided by their 2018 Rejected Referrals report which examined the experiences of all children and young people, and identified five common reasons for a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referral to be rejected, this new Barnardo's Scotland report explores the barriers care experienced children and young people face when in need of mental health support.

It finds that children with care experience and care leavers are disproportionately affected by rejected referrals to CAMHS services, and that policy and practice in the care sector needs to be improved to support good mental health and wellbeing. In identifying that many care experienced children and young people who need support are currently not receiving the services they need, the report cites two reasons: the types of therapy available are not suitable for the needs of the care experienced population who are more likely to be struggling with mental health problems as a result of trauma; and that aspects of policy and practice within CAMHS services create additional barriers for care experienced children and care leavers.

The report, which gives recommendations for policy and practice, is calling for a variety of mental health supports to be made available to care experienced young people which will meet their needs and support their engagement. 

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