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Improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in care

Care-experienced young people are at greater risk of poor mental health and wellbeing than other young people. Research suggests that this population are four times more likely to have mental health problems and five times more likely to have attempted suicide than their peers. Effective interventions to support mental health and wellbeing, as well as prevent self-harm and suicide, that meet the specific needs of these young people are needed. TRIUMPH agenda-setting work identified priority areas for intervention research to improve the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced young people including supporting young people to build positive relationships, training for those who support young people and models of interagency working. Although there are a number of interventions available internationally, there is limited research to indicate if these are effective, feasible or acceptable in the UK context.

We are delighted that TRIUMPH Co-investigator Dr Rhiannon Evans has secured National Institute for Health research (NIHR) funding to support the CHIMES Study (Care-experienced cHildren and young people’s Interventions to improve Mental health and wEllbeing outcomes: Systematic Review). It brings together researchers from the Centre for Development, Evaluation, Complexity and Implementation in Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) at Cardiff University, the University of Exeter and the University of Bangor. The study is conducted in collaboration with The Fostering Network

This two-year complex systematic review will draw together available evidence on interventions addressing the mental health and wellbeing needs of care-experienced children and young people, in addition to the prevention of suicide and self-harm. It addresses the following research questions:

  • What types of interventions have been tested that focus on mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced young people, what theories are they based on, and what outcomes do they target?
  • What are the effects (both beneficial and harms) and economic impact of these interventions?
  • How does context affect the implementation of interventions, what can help or inhibit effective implementation?
  • How acceptable are these interventions to care-experienced young people?
  • How might different aspects of interventions (type, theory, outcomes) be related in an overarching system-based programme theory?

Drawing on the findings of the review, the research team will work with a range of stakeholders, including those from the TRIUMPH network, to identify the most feasible and acceptable intervention that could progress to further outcome or implementation evaluation in the UK context.

We look forward to sharing the new insights this study will provide into how we can best support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in care.

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