Document Type

Long-term Community Adaptation of Children and Youth Receiving Residential Mental Health Services

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


Understanding how youth participate in social networks with peers and friends, engage in social or leisure activities, and more generally forge healthy relationships with others are key considerations in assessing overall well being of youth. Among a variety of emotional and behavioural challenges faced by children and youth involved with residential treatment or intensive family services may be their ability to negotiate relationships within social contexts (Cameron, de Boer, Frensch, & Adams, 2003).

Data were collected about youth who had been involved with children’s mental health residential treatment (RT) or intensive family service programs (IFS), designed as an alternative to residential treatment. Data were gathered about youth functioning at program entry, discharge, 12 to 18 months after leaving the program (Time 1 Follow Up), and 36 to 48 months post discharge (Time 2 Follow Up). Parent-reported measures were used to assess youth functioning prior to service involvement and at follow up. Admission and discharge information was gathered from program records.

Both youth and parents/guardians were asked a series of questions assessing behaviour within social networks as well as conduct within the community. For example, parents/guardians indicated how often youth experienced difficulties getting along with friends or how often youth were easily annoyed by others. At 12-18 months post discharge, youth in our study had the opportunity to speak freely about their friendship networks, social activities, and what they liked to do for fun. We also sought to describe the nature and frequency of youth misconduct within the community such as vandalism or theft. Both parents/guardians and youth were asked about behaviour that led to involvement with the legal system.