Young offenders ' and their families ' experiences of mental health interventions

Anna Jack (Cambridgeshire Youth Offending Service, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Caroline Lanskey (Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Joel Harvey (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Publication date: 21 December 2015



The purpose of this paper is to explore the relevance of young people ' s experiences of mental health interventions with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) before and during their time with youth offending services.


This qualitative interpretive study involved 14 interviews with young people who had offended, five of their carers and five CAMHS professionals from one local authority.


The paper identifies understanding, recognition, respect and trust as key principles in the practitioner-young person relationship, and in the intervention process more broadly, and suggests that systematic consultation with young people and their caregivers about their experience of mental health interventions would be beneficial. It notes important similarities and differences in the views of the different parties which shed further light on reasons why a young person may or may not engage with mental health services.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on a small sample of young people from one service, but it is hoped that the findings will be a useful springboard for other services to reflect upon.

Practical implications

The paper proposes the importance of recognising young people ' s agency in the intervention process and the value of systematic consultation with young people and their caregivers for securing their engagement in interventions.


The study takes a multi-perspective approach (of young people, their carers and practitioners) to capture the synergies and tensions in the expectations of and interactions between young people, practitioners and caregivers.



Jack, A., Lanskey, C. and Harvey, J. (2015), "Young offenders ' and their families ' experiences of mental health interventions", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 353-364.

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