The mental health of all children in contact with social services: Young person's version of a research paper

This study - summarised by Rhianna Brown, Research & Communications Intern at Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI) - looks at the mental health of all children (aged 17 years or less) in Northern Ireland (NI) and their contact with social services.

Contact with social services was grouped into:

  • No contact
  • Referred but decided no services were needed
  • Received services at home
  • Placed in care.

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What did the study do?

This study used anonymous data from health services and social services (called administrative data) to find out how many children in NI experience mental ill-health. It compared the mental health of children in contact with social services with those never in contact. It looked at prescribed medication to treat mental ill-health, hospitalisation for a mental health reason, and hospital presenting self-harm or thoughts of self-harm.

What did the study find?

  • 1 in 6 children in NI have contact with social services
  • 49.5% of children with mental ill-health in NI were previously or currently known to social services
  • Children in care were 52 times more likely to present to hospital with self-harm or thoughts of self-harm
  • Antidepressant prescribing levels were 18 times higher among children in care.

Read the publication to find out the key takeaways from this study.


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