Youths in foster care with mental health needs may not get the specialized services they need

The majority of youths with mental health problems did not receive services from the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).

By Rune Rolvsjord and Andreas R. Graven

The paper published in BMC Health Services Research describes mental health, the type and frequency of service use, and factors associated with service utilization for 11- to 17-year-old foster youth in Norway.

In the sample, 48.8% of youths had indications of mental health problems, and they had a high rate of service utilization from a wide range of services. The findings indicate that service need, measured as mental health problems, rather than demographic and placement characteristics seems to have importance for service use.

Even though youths with mental health problems had a doubled probability of receiving services, less than half of them had contact with CAMHS.

As 78.2% of youths with mental health problems receive service support from primary health care services, it is possible that many have their service needs met there.

To secure stepped care, screening procedures should be used in primary health care services to identify the youths in need for more specialized services.

Further, as youths in foster care often are in contact with several service providers it is important to have a good collaboration between services.