Research Digest: CORC data in young people’s mental health improvement goals

Horses for Courses: A qualitative exploration of goals formulated in mental health settings by young people, parents, and clinicians

Jenna Jacob, Julian Edbrooke-Childs, Simone Holley, Duncan Law, Miranda Wolpert
Published in: 
Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry (March 2015)

This paper compared goals formed from different viewpoints in child and young people’s mental health settings. Goals which young people set for themselves differ from those set by their parents or health workers and differ again from goals which are set jointly between young people and their parents, or professionals.

Child mental health is unique because family members are often involved in treatment, adding to the already challenging concept of measuring the impact of child mental health services.

The authors grouped the reported goals into different themes and subthemes (e.g. ‘self-confidence and understanding,’ ‘talking and listening’) to make comparisons between the groups. Goals from all viewpoints were wide-ranging and covered different aspects of mental health and wellbeing.

Key differences which came up: young people focused on coping with specific difficulties whereas parents focused on managing specific difficulties. Young people’s goals related to more personal aspects of care, with a focus on inward thoughts and feelings. Parent goals focused more on ways to help improve the young person’s behaviour and goals they wanted to set for themselves as parents/people. Jointly-agreed goals were mainly related to outward facing difficulties; for example, behaviour management and improving things at school.

Exploring the types of goals set showed that tracking goal progress may offer a view into areas that are not covered by other tools; particularly for topics like coping, resilience and confidence.

The comparison of types of goals from different viewpoints highlights the importance of making sure that the voice of the young person is heard and included in goal setting, particularly for collaborative goals. Recovery means different things to different people and goal setting and tracking provides the opportunity for the child to make clear what they want to focus on, based on what recovery looks like for them