Access to mental health services for children and young people with learning disabilities: findings from a local audit of service provision
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Access to mental health services for children and young people with learning disabilities: findings from a local audit of service provision

Gayle Cooney Consultant clinical psychologist, West Glasgow Ambulatory Care Hospital, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland
Ursula O’Donnell Principal clinical psychologist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland
Laura Blood Trainee clinical psychologist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • To review the Choice and Partnership Approach used in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

  • To explore barriers and facilitators to CAMHS access for children and young people with learning disabilities

  • To reflect on how you can support children and young people with learning disabilities to access CAMHS

There is increasing concern that children and young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) experience long waiting times to access assessment and treatment. The Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA) is used by CAMHS to match services to needs appropriately and provide timely access to care. The CAPA is based on a formula where 66% of children and young people who are assessed in CAMHS will attend at least one treatment appointment. This is referred to as the CAPA conversion rate.

An audit was conducted at all eight CAMHS in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with the aim of investigating the access of children and young people with learning disabilities to mental health services. The conversion rate was found to be higher than the CAPA conversion rate, which suggests that children and young people with learning disabilities do not necessarily face barriers to accessing mental health services. Looked-after status did not appear to be a barrier but living in the most deprived areas of the health board did. It also appeared that the eight CAMHS may be receiving more referrals than recommended in the CAPA, which could have negative implications for the quality of services and for staff well-being.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2022.e2173

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

Gayle.Cooney@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Cooney G, O’Donnell U, Blood L (2022) Access to mental health services for children and young people with learning disabilities: findings from a local audit of service provision. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2022.e2173

Published online: 20 January 2022

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