Experiences of pathways to mental health services for young people and their carers: a qualitative meta-synthesis review.

TitleExperiences of pathways to mental health services for young people and their carers: a qualitative meta-synthesis review.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMacDonald K, Ferrari M, Fainman-Adelman N, Iyer SN
JournalSoc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol
Date Published2020 Nov 18

Worldwide, growing concern with young people's mental health is spurring service reform efforts. Such reform requires a full understanding of the experiences of young people and their carers when seeking mental health help. To generate such an understanding, we conducted a meta-synthesis of qualitative literature on the perspectives of youths and their carers on navigating mental health systems. Five electronic databases were searched (Medline, PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, HealthSTAR). Studies were included if they explored the experiences of pathways to mental health services of persons aged 11-30 years and/or their carers; were published in English or French; and used qualitative methodology. Quality appraisal was conducted using the CASP tool. The synthesis of 31 included studies yielded three themes-initiating contact with mental health services; characteristics of services' response; and youths' and carers' appraisal of services. Themes about initiating contact included mental health literacy, structural barriers, and social support. Service response-related themes included complex pathways, waitlists, eligibility, and fragmented care. In terms of service appraisal, positive encounters featured providers who were accessible and perceived as caring. Negative appraisals resulted from feeling misunderstood and excluded and being ill-informed about treatment. Across diagnoses and settings, youths and carers had difficult experiences accessing mental healthcare. While individual, social, and healthcare factors shaping pathways to care varied, systemic complexities were a common inhibitor. This synthesis informs recommendations for improving mental health services and youths' pathways to them. It underlines the need for grounding reform in youths' and carers' perspectives and needs.

Alternate JournalSoc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol
PubMed ID33206200