Youth care helps adolescents with behavioural or emotional problems to function better News
Various forms of youth care enable adolescents between 12 and 18 with behavioural or emotional problems to function better in day-to-day life. Researchers from the UMCG and the Center of Expertise Healthy Ageing at Hanze University of Applied Sciences monitored a group of these young people for three years on their journey through the youth care system.

The adolescents themselves claimed to be functioning better at school, in their leisure time, in friendships and in their home situation. The research results have been published in the scientific magazine European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Long-term study of a group of adolescents

Psychosocial problems have a negative effect on various aspects of adolescents’ lives. Although it is known that providing youth care for these problems can help them to function better, there was as yet no evidence regarding the long-term effects. In her research, medical sociologist Vera Verhage monitored 733 adolescents aged 12 years and older, recording their progress five times over a period of three years. The group was divided into four sub-groups: adolescents without emotional or behavioural problems, adolescents with either emotional problems or behavioural problems, and adolescents with both emotional and behavioural problems.

Improvements in functioning

Before the youth care services started, the adolescents with both emotional and behavioural problems experienced the most limitations in the way that they functioned. Three years later, both the group with either emotional or behavioural problems and the group with emotional and behavioural problems were functioning better. The adolescents themselves claimed to be functioning better in all four aspects of their lives: at school, in their leisure time, in friendships and in their home situation. These improvements were evident even if the underlying problems may not had been entirely removed. So, youth care appears to help young people with psychosocial problems to function better.

Innovative with a hopeful message

According to researcher Vera Verhage, the study is innovative and has a hopeful message for professionals working in the youth care system. Verhage: ‘The media often feature stories about the failings of the youth care system. But this study provides a hopeful message: the results show that young people with psychosocial problems function better after receiving youth care. It is very important to offer this group some form of appropriate youth care, because it can have a hugely positive effect on their future. In addition, the article is innovative in that we looked at improvements in the way that young people with psychosocial problems function, rather than a reduction of their problems, which has often been the focus of previous studies’.

TAKECARE research database

Verhage used the TAKECARE research database for the purposes of her study. TAKECARE was set up in the Northern Netherlands to analyse the long-term effects of youth care given to children and adolescents. Almost 1,400 children and adolescents who receive care for psychosocial problems are being monitored. The care varies from small-scale preventive child healthcare to specialized youth mental health care. A group of 666 children and adolescents without problems is also being monitored.

Interested in more? Read the publication: European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry