What is known on the subject?
What does this paper add to existing knowledge?
What are the implications for practice?Introduction:
Despite well-documented vulnerabilities to mental health problems among the increasing population of looked after children, there continues to be poor uptake and utilization of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).Aim:
To elicit views of foster carers regarding the mental health needs of children and adolescents in their care and their experiences of accessing mental health services.Methods:
A grounded theory approach and semistructured interviews with ten foster carers.Results:
The experience of being a foster carer was the core category, with three major themes: (1) foster carers’ psychological understanding of challenging behaviour; (2) barriers to accessing CAMHS; (3) the importance of support.Discussion:
A key finding of this research is that barriers to accessing CAMHS were not experienced at the point of referral, but once within the mental health system. The foster carers demonstrated a proactive approach to accessing services but expressed a need for more support structures related directly to the viability of the placement.Implications for practice:
Mental health nurses have a pivotal role in providing a more responsive and needs-led service for this population; professional support to foster carers to include facilitating peer support; and clinical interventions for the looked after children.