Understanding the mental health needs of children and young people with social work involvement

An introduction to this Emerging Minds funded project by the lead researcher Dr Eleanor Chatburn (University of East Anglia)


Children and young people (CYP) with social work involvement often experience a range of adversities and complex mental health needs. We know surprisingly little though about the mental health provision that is available in routine services for this vulnerable population. We also do not know how personal and contextual factors and inequalities may shape access to mental health provision. 

About the Researcher

I am an early career clinical psychologist and health services researcher with experience working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and paediatrics services. I have witnessed first-hand the difficulties that some children and young people with social care involvement have in accessing our mental health services. This experience has inspired me to develop a new research project seeking to understand how services support children with complex needs who have had complicated early starts to life. I am thrilled to be working with a team of collaborators and supervisors on this project from the University of Cambridge, University of East Anglia, and South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Emerging Minds Project

Emerging Minds has funded me to conduct a cross-sector placement in the area of child and youth social care with a focus on understanding the mental health needs of this vulnerable population. In particular, I am interested in understanding how services currently meet the needs of children who have been exposed to multiple early traumas and who may present with a range of difficulties. 

Due to the tight timeframe from this scheme, I will be conducting this placement as a series of online consultation meetings, observations, and short visits with a range of services that operate in this area. I plan to meet with a range of social care and mental health practitioners to ask them what they think are the top research priorities in this field. 


I will share my reflections from this placement in a blog post for The Mental Elf, which I hope will inspire further conversations about how we can best serve this vulnerable population. 

I will be using the learning from these visits, plus a period of PPI consultation, to directly inform the design of a new research project to understand mental health provision for this group of children and young people. It is my aim that the future outputs of this study will inform service design, commissioning, and policy in this area.

Find Out More

If you would like to share your views on research priorities in this area or discuss potential collaborations, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me on Twitter @eleanorchats or by email e.chatburnATuea.ac.uk.