Document Type

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

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


Integral to formulating a picture of youth overall well being is to understand how youth participate in social networks with peers and friends, engage in social or leisure activities, and more generally forge healthy relationships with others. 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 was 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 was gathered about youth functioning at program entry, discharge and 12 to 18 months after leaving the program. Parent-reported measures were used to assess youth functioning prior to service involvement and at follow up. 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 difficulty getting along with friends or were easily annoyed by others. 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.