Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 529–548

Engaging with a Mental Health Service: Perspectives of At-Risk Youth


  • Rosemary French
    • Centre for Clinical Interventions/YouthLink
  • Melissa Reardon
    • YouthLink
  • Peter Smith
    • Curtin University

DOI: 10.1023/B:CASW.0000003142.13457.0a

Cite this article as:
French, R., Reardon, M. & Smith, P. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (2003) 20: 529. doi:10.1023/B:CASW.0000003142.13457.0a


Studies suggest that only a small number of young people with diagnosable mental health difficulties are referred for treatment. Of these a significant proportion fail to engage in treatment or terminate prematurely. This situation is exacerbated when the young people are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and considered to be “at-risk.” With this at-risk population the process of engagement is likely to be a critical aspect of successful interventions. Using qualitative methodology, at-risk clients of a mental health service (n = sixteen) were interviewed, and four primary themes crucial to the engagement process were identified. The data indicated the importance of considering the young person and their multifarious life-experiences; the attractiveness and accessibility of the service; and the follow-up offered by the service provider. The implications for mental health services that provide counseling for young people are discussed.

At-Risk YouthMental HealthEngagement

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003