Child and youth mental health services are currently responding to high levels of need with finite resources.
At the same time, data shows that not everyone improves or is better at the end of treatment and, for many, difficulties will be ongoing. Yet practitioners are not generally trained to manage endings when the person is not better and there is no guidance on this from NICE or from other bodies. The public are taught to expect specialist help will make the difference. In this context, ending mental health treatment can be challenging.
During 2017, The Anna Freud Learning Network was in dialogue with practitioners working in a range of settings, and with young people, to fully explore the factors that can make ending treatment a challenge, approaches that are helpful, and how we can improve things.
In this report we review the challenges and suggest some ways forward. There are three particular areas that warrant ongoing attention or investigation.
- The importance of drawing attention to the fact that there will be an ending, from the start
- The need to communicate openly about limitations in how, how much, or how far, the treatment being offered will help
- Further work is needed to help services, families and individuals to most effectively draw on types of support that they can use without a mental health professional being present.
The issues raised here are relevant to services, to commissioners, and service users. We hope this report will raise the profile under-acknowledged issues in our child and youth mental health systems and services, and support the sector moving forward. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all those colleagues who have contributed to this work through their engagement with the Anna Freud Learning Network.