Help-seeking by foster-carers for their 'looked after' children: The role of mental health literacy and treatment attitudes

Siobain Bonfield, Suzanne Collins, Jeune Guishard-Pine, Peter E. Langdon

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Factors that influence the help-seeking steps for looked after children with mental health problems were explored within the context of a help-seeking model, as were foster-carers' Mental Health Literacy (MHL) and help-seeking attitudes. Using a cross-sectional and between groups design, data on variables likely to be related to help-seeking by foster-carers were collected from a sample of 113 foster-carers and 108 looked after children within the East of England. Results demonstrated that although foster-carers had high MHL overall, it did not significantly influence the first help-seeking step of ‘problem detection’. More favourable help-seeking attitudes significantly influenced the second help-seeking step of ‘perceived need’ for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The results from the logistic regression analyses found MHL and help-seeking attitudes, in combination with the presence and impact of a mental health problem, and foster-carer education, to be significant predictors of specific help-seeking. Forty-nine per cent of children were found to have an apparent mental health problem and were not receiving a service from CAMHS. As such, both MHL and help-seeking attitudes have important roles to play in facilitating CAMHS use by this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1352
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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