Improving transitions for young people who move from child and adolescent mental health services to mental health services for adults: lessons from research and young people's and practitioners' experiences

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The importance of ensuring robust arrangements for young people's transitions from specialist child and adolescent mental health services to specialist mental health services for adults is well documented in the international literature. Nonetheless, according to young people, there remains great variation in the quality of services in respect of their transitions. Furthermore, the problems that we report are by no means confined to single continents. This review examines recent literature and explores the themes that emerge from it with a view to finding solutions.

Recent findings

Our findings from the literature suggest a clear strategic direction to improve the quality of the care of young people who need to move from specialist child and adolescent mental health services to specialist mental health services for adults. Our examination of the literature identifies a number of themes that have been recognized by practitioners and we have used them to define a model of care and aspects of good practice. We think they should be included within all evidence-based policies, protocols and care pathways for young people. There is little literature available that documents the personal experiences of young people in transition and their families, but consistent themes emerge from what is available.

Summary

There are a number of topics that require active consideration when preparing young people for transition between services. Despite the limited volume of research, and particularly that which has directly involved young people and families, we know from anecdote, experience and local audit and research that improvements in service design and practice are required. These matters inform the solutions that we suggest. We see as pivotal involving young people directly in planning their own care and setting quality standards for healthcare and other services.

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