Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 529-548

First online:

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

  • Rosemary FrenchAffiliated withCentre for Clinical Interventions/YouthLink
  • , Melissa ReardonAffiliated withYouthLink
  • , Peter SmithAffiliated withCurtin University

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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 Youth Mental Health Engagement