Project title:

Improving Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: An evaluation of Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT)

Type of research:

Applied Research

Background & Strength of Scientific Evidence:

The Adult IAPT programme arose from a national desire to improve access to talking therapies for common mental health problems. It targets mild to moderate depression and anxiety which are the commonest mental health problems seen in general practice. In contrast, the Children and Young People’s (CYP) IAPT project is about transforming existing services offered by Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by adopting elements of the Adult IAPT approach which will help improve services for children and young people (NHS 2012). These elements include involving children and young people in shaping their local services, increasing the use of evidence-based therapy through workforce training, developing local practices’ infrastructure and ability to collect routine health data to monitor and improve outcomes.

Participating CAMHS in the East of England are part of the University College London (UCL)/King’s College London (KCL) joint Learning Collaborative, which received funding since 2011 for the roll-out of the CYP IAPT. Currently the collaborative is composed of 24 partnerships of CAMHS, Local Authority and Voluntary Sector Services, serving a population of around 1.9M aged 0-19 years.

That funding has enabled the transformation CAMHS in the region and provides a unique opportunity to evaluate how the various components of the project have been implemented, how this results in improved outcomes, and at what cost. Our research plan is set out to provide insights for service improvement and service redesign, with the overall aim of improving patient outcomes and delivering cost-effective CAMHS in the East of England and nationally.

Research objectives:

  • Evaluate the implementation of CYP IAPT
  • Analyse the effectiveness of CYP IAPT
  • Estimate the cost of CYP IAPT

Proposed methods:

A multiple case study method will be used to evaluate the implementation of CYP IAPT in East of England CAMHS linked to the UCL/KCL Learning Collaborative.

CAMHS will be selected on the basis of their interest; their model of services and, most importantly, their reach in terms of population needs, service access and inequalities. This should dictate how many services take part (e.g. 6-8). The actual number of participating CAMHS will depend on the resources available for “deep dive” analysis. Each case will be investigated in depth and longitudinally using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Expected Output of Research / Impact and added value:

  • Improved understanding of factors critical to the implementation of the CYP IAPT initiative including the enhanced evidence based practice and patient participation leading to better outcome for service users.
  • Improved understanding of factors critical to cost effective mental health services for children and young people
  • Contribution to the development of Payment by Results for CAMHS based on cost-effective evidence based practice.

For further information on this project, please contact Dr Ayla Humphrey 

Child and Young People Mental Health Services – For information about the CLAHRC EoE Research group, please click here.


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