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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • good practice;
  • mental health services;
  • service development;
  • transition to adult care

Abstract

Aim

Ensuring a seamless transition from child to adult mental health services poses challenges for services worldwide. This is an important process in the ongoing care of young people with mental illness; therefore, it is incumbent on all countries to probe their individual structures to assess the quality of mental health service delivery to this vulnerable cohort. To date, there have been no published studies on the transition from Child to Adult Mental Health Services in the Republic of Ireland. To this end, a nationwide survey of transition policies of community mental health teams in both services was conducted in order to compare best practice guidelines for transition with current process and experience in clinical practice.

Method

Structured interviews were conducted with 57 consultant psychiatrists (representing 32 CAMHS teams and 25 AMHS teams) to obtain information on annual transition numbers, existing transition policies and operational practice from the professional perspective.

Results

Numbers of young people considered suitable for transfer to adult services (M = 7.73, SD = 9.86, n = 25) were slightly higher than numbers who actually transferred (M = 4.50, SD = 3.33, n = 20). There is a lack of standardized practice nationwide regarding the service transition boundary, an absence of written transition policies and protocols, and minimal formal interaction between child and adult services.

Conclusions

The findings suggest that there are critical gaps between current operational practice and best practice guidelines. Future studies will investigate the impact this has on the transition experiences of young people, their carers and health-care professionals.