COACHES: Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Referrals and Outcomes for Adolescents and Children with Social Workers

The COACHES study is a four-year collaboration

COACHES: Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Referrals and Outcomes for Adolescents and Children with Social Workers

Summary

This protocol summarises plans for a mixed methods study investigating the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) journey for young people with a social worker across two NHS Trusts.

Who, what, why and how?

Many children and young people with social work involvement experience mental health difficulties. Yet we don’t know enough about the mental health care they receive from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. We do not know which young people get accepted or rejected for treatment, what treatments lead to positive change for these young people, or how much these treatments cost.

The COACHES (Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Referrals and Outcomes for Adolescents and Children with Social Workers) study aims to fill these knowledge gaps. The study, which is a four-year collaboration between the Primary Care Unit at the University of Cambridge, Kingston University, King’s College London, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Care Leavers Association will combine quantitative and qualitative analysis. Linked administrative health and education records will be used for quantitative analysis, whilst qualitative analysis will be co-produced using case notes and semi-structured interviews with children and young people.

The study is jointly funded by both What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care (WWEICSC) and The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Research Questions

The research questions for the quantitative studies are:

  1. What are the socioeconomic and demographic factors, clinical needs, and long-term outcomes of children and young people with social work involvement whose referral is accepted or rejected by CAMHS?
  2. What CAMHS interventions predict better outcomes for which children and young people?
  3. What demographic factors and service factors at intake predict better outcomes for which children and young people?
  4. What are the cost effectiveness and cost consequences of these forms of intervention?

The research questions for the qualitative studies are:

  1. How are children and young people with social work involvement and their social care needs characterised in CAMHS case notes?
  2. What is the experience of CAMHS among Children and Young People with a Social Worker?

The study will look at examples of children and young people with social work involvement in two areas of the UK – South London, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Evaluation partners

University of Cambridge

Due Date

This project is due to be completed by August 2026.
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