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Crisis care for children and young people

We are examining how mental health crisis care for children and young people is sustained, experienced and integrated within local services.

There has been a sharp and worrying increase in mental health problems experienced by children and young people. Among those with a mental health difficulty, almost half of older teenagers and a quarter of 11-16 year olds report having self-harmed or attempted suicide. Extreme emotional distress, with or without self-harm, is often referred to as a ‘crisis’. Services for young people in crisis are a priority in the UK with services expanding. However, little is known about what crisis services currently exist, who uses them, or what type of service works best for children and young people and their families.


This project aims to explore the types of mental health crisis services currently available to children and young people up to the age of 25 in England and Wales, and to examine how they are organised, perceived and integrated within other local care systems.


We will use a survey to create a database of crisis response services across England and Wales including how they are organised, implemented and used. From this database we will identify eight contrasting services selected for variety. Treating each as a case study, we will conduct interviews with children and young people and family members who have used the service as well as managers and staff. We will look at how the services work and gather data on how they are used and by whom. In our analysis we will focus on understanding how each crisis service is provided, perceived and implemented.


Having compared and contrasted each case study and synthesised all our data we will draw lessons for the future provision of high-quality crisis services which are sensitive to the support needs of a diverse range of children and young people.


This project is funded by National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme.

Lead researcher

Research theme