Hunter, A., Playle, John, Sanchez, P., Cahill, J. and McGowan, L. (2008) Introduction of a child and adolescent mental health link worker: education and health staff focus group findings. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 15 (8). pp. 670-677. ISSN 1351-0126

Policy guidance suggests that outcomes for adolescents with mental health problems can be improved by secondary education services (SES) and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) working more closely. This study reports on staff experiences of the introduction of a mental health link worker (MHLW). The findings of two focus groups are presented, conducted with staff from CAMHS and SES. These focus groups formed part of the overall wider evaluation of the MHLW role. The groups explored staff perceptions and experiences following the introduction of the MHLW, and elicited their views on the effectiveness of this innovative role. Qualitative methods were employed, and analysis was conducted using the principles of grounded theory and the constant comparative method. The findings revealed that the MHLW was well received by both groups, despite the identification of potential barriers. A number of key themes emerged, which included the ability of the link worker to improve communication and to encourage mutual understanding between services. The issues raised by these themes are discussed and recommendations are made for future practice and research.

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