DOI: 10.1177/25161032231221727 ISSN: 2516-1032

Adoptive parents’ satisfaction with child and adolescent mental services and their mental health concerns over time: A question of fit?

Matt Woolgar, Carmen Pinto, Rafael A. González
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Health (social science)
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Little is known about adoptive parents’ experiences of and satisfaction with statutory child and adolescent mental services (CAMHS) in the UK, nor of parental concerns about their adopted children’s mental health and well-being. Ninety-eight adoptive parents completed an online survey about their satisfaction with services as well as their mental health concerns for their child currently and retrospectively at the point of adoption. Parental concerns were diverse, and many overlapped with issues that CAMHS could normally help with. Attachment was the primary concern initially, but this decreased over time in placement; while challenging behaviour was the highest rated current concern, along with aspects of general functioning such as peer relations, social skills and education. Unexpectedly, trauma was a relatively low concern at both timepoints. There were very high levels of dissatisfaction with CAMHS, evident across questions of access, engagement and quality of services, all at levels much higher than typically reported by general samples. Adoptive parents’ substantial dissatisfaction with CAMHS occurred despite an apparent fit between many parental concerns and the kinds of services typically offered in CAMHS. There remains a significant challenge to develop a shared understanding between parents and services of adopted children’s needs, especially given the absence of data about adopted children’s mental health and wellbeing problems.

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