Mental health of looked-after young people survey 2002-2004

These reports, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) present data from the first national survey of the mental health of young people looked after by local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.


  • The primary purpose of the surveys was to produce prevalence rates of three main categories of mental disorder: conduct disorder, hyperactivity and emotional disorders by child and placement characteristics.
  • The second aim of the survey was to determine the impact and burden of children’s mental health problems in terms of social impairment and adverse consequences for others.
  • The third main purpose of the survey was to examine service utilisation. The examination of service use requires the measurement of contextual factors (lifestyle behaviours, and risk factors).
  • Fieldwork for the surveys took place between 2001 and 2004.


Data were obtained from a representative sample (n 1453) of looked after and accommodated young people; topics covered were prevalence and type of mental disorder; general health; scholastic achievement and education; social networks and lifestyle behaviours and the prevalence of attachment disorders.

Reference: MeltzerM.GatwardR.CorbinT., Ford, T, et al (200?The Mental Health of Young People Looked After by Local Authorities in [insert country here]. TSO


editors comments

These were and are significant and substantial surveys using a one-stage survey design and a case vignette analysis of the precoded questions and transcripts of informants' comments.

Each report interconnects the area (Country) data with that of the others. The work builds on a previous survey Meltzer, M., Gatward, R., Goodman, R., et al (2000) Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in Great Britain. TSO, also attached,

The reader may find particular value in the authors' journal article - Ford, T., Vostanis, P., Meltzer, H., & Goodman, R. (2007). Psychiatric disorder among British children looked after by local authorities: Comparison with children living in private households. British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(4), 319-325. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.106.025023 who conclude that;


" Children looked after by local authorities had higher levels of psychopathology, educational difficulties and neurodevelopmental disorders, and ‘looked after’ status was independently associated with nearly all types of psychiatric disorder after adjusting for these educational and physical factors. The prevalence of psychiatric disorder was particularly high among those living in residential care and with many recent changes of placement....... our study suggests that British children who are looked after by the local authority have a higher prevalence of both psychosocial adversity and psychiatric disorder than the most socio-economically disadvantaged children living in private households, and that care-related variables are strongly related to mental health." read more




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