Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Potential value of the current mental health monitoring of children in state care in England

  • Christine Cocker (a1), Helen Minnis (a2) and Helen Sweeting (a3)
Abstract
Background

Routine screening to identify mental health problems in English looked-after children has been conducted since 2009 using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

Aims

To investigate the degree to which data collection achieves screening aims (identifying scale of problem, having an impact on mental health) and the potential analytic value of the data set.

Method

Department for Education data (2009–2017) were used to examine: aggregate, population-level trends in SDQ scores in 4/5- to 16/17-year-olds; representativeness of the SDQ sample; attrition in this sample.

Results

Mean SDQ scores (around 50% ‘abnormal’ or ‘borderline’) were stable over 9 years. Levels of missing data were high (25–30%), as was attrition (28% retained for 4 years). Cross-sectional SDQ samples were not representative and longitudinal samples were biased.

Conclusions

Mental health screening appears justified and the data set has research potential, but the English screening programme falls short because of missing data and inadequate referral routes for those with difficulties.

Declaration of interest

None.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Potential value of the current mental health monitoring of children in state care in England
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Potential value of the current mental health monitoring of children in state care in England
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Potential value of the current mental health monitoring of children in state care in England
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Christine Cocker, School of Social Work, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email: christine.cocker@uea.ac.uk
References
Hide All
1Goodman, R, Ford, T, Corbin, T, Meltzer, H. Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) multi-informant algorithm to screen looked-after children for psychiatric disorders. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2004; 13: 2531.
2Information for researchers and professionals about the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaires. Youth in Mind (http://www.sdqinfo.com).
3Goodman, R. The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: a research note. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 1997; 38: 581–6.
4Goodman, R, Ford, T, Corbin, T, Meltzer, H. Using the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) multi-informant algorithm to screen looked-after children for psychiatric disorders. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2004; 13: II2531.
5Tarren-Sweeney, M. The brief assessment checklists (BAC-C, BAC-A): mental health screening measures for school-aged children and adolescents in foster, Kinship, residential and adoptive care. Child Youth Serv Rev 2013; 35: 771–9.
6Cheng, S, Keyes, KM, Bitfoi, A, Carta, MG, Koç, C, Goelitz, D, et al. Understanding parent–teacher agreement of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ): comparison across seven European countries. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res 2018; 27: e1589.
7Aebi, M, Kuhn, C, Banaschewski, T, Grimmer, Y, Poustka, L, Steinhausen, H-C, et al. The contribution of parent and youth information to identify mental health disorders or problems in adolescents. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health 2017; 11: 112.
8Goodman, R, Ford, T, Simmons, H, Gatward, R, Meltzer, H. Using the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) to screen for child psychiatric disorders in a community sample. Br J Psychiatry 2000; 177: 534–9.
9Department for Education. Guidance on Data Collection on the Emotional Health of Looked After Children. Department for Education, 2012 (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253566/ssda903_sdq_guidance_2012-13_version1-0.pdf).
10Meltzer, H, Gohuard, R, Corbin, T, Goodman, R, Ford, T. The Mental Health of Young People Looked After by Local Authorities in England: The Report of a Survey Carried out in 2002 by Social Survey Division of the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Department of Health. Office for National Statistics, Stationery Office, 2003.
11Department for Education. Children looked after by local authorities in England Guide to the SSDA903 collection 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. Department for Education, 2015 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-looked-after-return-2015-to-2016-guide).
12Broeders, M, Moss, S, Nyström, L, Njor, S, Jonsson, H, Paap, E, et al. The impact of mammographic screening on breast cancer mortality in Europe: a review of observational studies. J Med Screen 2012; 19: 1425.
13Department for Education. Children looked after in England (including adoption), year ending 31 March 2017: additional tables. Department for Education, 2017 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2016-to-2017).
14Department for Children, School and Families. Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2009. Department for Children, School and Families, 2009 (http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20101008101451/ http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000878/SFR25-2009Version2.pdf).
15National Health Service (NHS). Screening Programmes: National Services Division Scotland. National Health Service, 2016 (http://www.nsd.scot.nhs.uk/services/screening/).
16Harris, R, Sawaya, G, Moyer, V, Calonge, N. Reconsidering the criteria for evaluating proposed screening programs: reflections from 4 current and former members of the U.S. preventive services task force. Epidemiol Rev 2011; 33: 2035.
17Andermann, A, Blancquaert, I, Beauchamp, S, Dery, V. Revisiting Wilson and Jungner in the genomic age: a review of screening criteria over the past 40 years. Bull World Health Org 2008; 86: 317–9.
18Wilson, J, Jungner, G. Principles and Practice of Screening for Disease. World Health Organization, 1968.
19Costello, E. Early detection and prevention of mental health problems: developmental epidemiology and systems of support. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 2016; 45: 710–7.
20Fisher, P, Chamberlain, P, Leve, L. Improving the lives of foster children through evidence-based interventions. Vulnerable Child Youth Stud 2009; 4: 122–7.
21Dozier, M, Bernard, K. Attachment and biobehavioral catch-up: addressing the needs of infants and toddlers exposed to inadequate or problematic caregiving. Curr Opini Psychol 2017; 15: 111–7.
22Mason, W, Chmelka, M, Thompson, R. Responsiveness of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) in a sample of high-risk youth in residential treatment. Child Youth Care Forum 2012; 41: 479–92.
23Bazalgette, L, Rahilly, T, Trevelyan, G. Achieving Emotional Wellbeing for Looked After Children. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 2015.
24House of Commons Education Committee. Mental health and well-being of looked-after children Fourth Report of Session 2015–16. House of Commons Education Committee, 2016.
25Department for Education, Department of Health. Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked After Children. Department for Education, Department of Health, 2015.
26Department of Health, Department for Education. Mental Health and Wellbeing of Looked-After Children: Government Response to the Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2015–16. Department for Education, Department of Health, 2016.
27Department for Education. Children looked after in England (including adoption and care leavers) year ending 31 March 2015. Department for Education, 2015.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

BJPsych Open
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2056-4724
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-open
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Potential value of the current mental health monitoring of children in state care in England

  • Christine Cocker (a1), Helen Minnis (a2) and Helen Sweeting (a3)
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *