Mental health service delivery for adolescents and young people: a comparative study between Australia and the UK

Fenton, Sarah-Jane Hannah (2016). Mental health service delivery for adolescents and young people: a comparative study between Australia and the UK. University of Birmingham and The University of Melbourne. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores policy and service delivery for adolescent and young adult or ‘transition age’ mental health service users aged 16-25 across different jurisdictions in the UK and Australia. The study explores the implications that policy formulation and implementation have for service delivery in these different contextual settings; and examines how young people (who are at a vulnerable stage developmentally in terms of mental health), have their access to services affected by the existing policy framework.

A policy analysis was conducted along with qualitative interviews in six case sites (three in the UK and three in Australia). The thesis adopted a critical realist approach using a laminated cross-sectional interview strategy that was developed to include interviews with national policy makers; local policy makers and service managers; staff working within services; and the young people whom were accessing services as the recipients of policy.

Findings from this thesis explore how young people use risk escalation as a way of managing delays to treatment and how practitioners identify particular difficulties for young people transitioning in services when they are due to ‘step up’ into more acute services, or ‘step down’ to a less intensive service. The thesis explores the implications and unintended consequences for young people of policy including processes of ‘cost-shunting’ and ‘resource envy’ at local and national levels. Finally, the thesis offers some learning for systems working to support 16-25 year olds through demonstrating the importance of the dual role of ‘curing’ and ‘caring’ in mental health services.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Health Services Management Centre
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services


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