SCIE press release

Mental health: From child/adolescent to adult services; supporting young people through transition

22 November 2012

They looked at my file and told me that, as I was 16 in a couple of weeks' time, they wouldn't be able to treat me anymore. That was to be my last session and I was, like 'Oh'.

Young person speaking in Social Care TV film on mental health "transitions".

What happens when a young person with mental health problems becomes an adult? It can be a time of anxiety for them and their families, and not all services are good at making the transition smooth for these young people. What often happens is that a referral is made from children or adolescent services, but often the young person doesn't then turn up at adult services. They can then become "lost" in the system.

To help professionals across health, social care and other services, two new films on Social Care TV are launched today. The first film looks at the sorts of problems that four young people have encountered, featuring some deeply personal recollections of their transitions. The second film shows what is being done to address this, in Sheffield.

Accessing the right support can make all the difference. This includes:

SCIE's Deputy Chief Executive, Amanda Edwards, says:

Being a teenager brings many challenges. Imagine how much more difficult it is if you have a mental health problem and you need to transfer from adolescent to adult services. These films are invaluable to care staff working with young people. It's about keeping young people in the system so that they can be supported. What's needed are more innovative schemes, such as the one shown, in the films, in Sheffield.

A bumpy ride

The first film hears from four young people from around the country, who have all had challenges when transferring from adolescent to adult services. The two young women, aged 18 and 21, and two young men, aged 20 and 25, describe in an intensely personal way, how transition felt for them. They discuss the onset of their mental health problems and their experience of transition to adult services, which they describe as "scary, confusing, and 'like falling down a cliff with rocky bits'". Admission to adult mental health wards has been particularly frightening. They say that young people and their families want information, joined up services, and they want to be listened to. Otherwise, being discharged "feels like being given up on".

One solution; the Sheffield example

The second film shows how, in Sheffield, a "transitions clinic" has been created. Although only a pilot scheme at the moment, it's hoped that the clinic will be a "must have" for young people undergoing transition, in Sheffield and elsewhere. One young woman featured in the film, Chloe, is shown being central to discussions on what will happen to her in the future. Sheffield now has an integrated Health and Social Care Trust. Young people were getting lost in the gap between services and many were not accessing those services. This is now being addressed. Also available is a peer support group and a drop-in counselling service, where staff and young people talk about the ways in which these new services are of benefit.

Policy context

Guy Hollingsworth is Service Director at Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust. He talks, in one film, about the tensions that can exist in separated health and social care systems; health, with its "payment by results" culture, and social care, with its self-directed support culture. Guy also talks about how, unless transitions work is done properly and in a joined up way, the costs of the mental health issues will end up being more to the public purse.


Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: