Social Work - Research Publications

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    Sex differences in psychological distress, behavioural and emotional problems, and substance use in young people in out-of-home care
    Cotton, SM ; Rice, S ; Moeller-Saxone, K ; Magnus, A ; Harvey, C ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Humphreys, C ; Murray, L ; Halperin, S ; McGorry, PD ; Herrman, H (WILEY, 2019-08-08)
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    Supporting foster and kinship carers to promote the mental health of children
    Fergeus, J ; Humphreys, C ; Harvey, C ; Herrman, H (WILEY, 2019-02-01)
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    A controlled trial of implementing a complex mental health intervention for carers of vulnerable young people living in out-of-home care: the ripple project
    Herrman, H ; Humphreys, C ; Halperin, S ; Monson, K ; Harvey, C ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Cotton, S ; Mitchell, P ; Glynn, T ; Magnus, A ; Murray, L ; Szwarc, J ; Davis, E ; Havighurst, S ; McGorry, P ; Tyano, S ; Kaplan, I ; Rice, S ; Moeller-Saxone, K (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2016-12-07)
    BACKGROUND: Out-of-home care (OoHC) refers to young people removed from their families by the state because of abuse, neglect or other adversities. Many of the young people experience poor mental health and social function before, during and after leaving care. Rigorously evaluated interventions are urgently required. This publication describes the protocol for the Ripple project and notes early findings from a controlled trial demonstrating the feasibility of the work. The Ripple project is implementing and evaluating a complex mental health intervention that aims to strengthen the therapeutic capacities of carers and case managers of young people (12-17 years) in OoHC. METHODS: The study is conducted in partnership with mental health, substance abuse and social services in Melbourne, with young people as participants. It has three parts: 1. Needs assessment and implementation of a complex mental health intervention; 2. A 3-year controlled trial of the mental health, social and economic outcomes; and 3. Nested process evaluation of the intervention. RESULTS: Early findings characterising the young people, their carers and case managers and implementing the intervention are available. The trial Wave 1 includes interviews with 176 young people, 52% of those eligible in the study population, 104 carers and 79 case managers. CONCLUSIONS: Implementing and researching an affordable service system intervention appears feasible and likely to be applicable in other places and countries. Success of the intervention will potentially contribute to reducing mental ill-health among these young people, including suicide attempts, self-harm and substance abuse, as well as reducing homelessness, social isolation and contact with the criminal justice system. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12615000501549 . Retrospectively registered 19 May 2015.
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    Placement Instability Among Young People Removed from Their Original Family and the Likely Mental Health Implications.
    Rice, S ; Cotton, S ; Moeller-Saxone, K ; Mihalopoulos, C ; Magnus, A ; Harvey, C ; Humphreys, C ; Halperin, S ; Scheppokat, A ; McGorry, P ; Herrman, H ( 2017-04-25)
    BACKGROUND: Young people in out-of-home care are more likely to experience poorer mental and physical health outcomes related to their peers. Stable care environments are essential for ameliorating impacts of disruptive early childhood experiences, including exposure to psychological trauma, abuse and neglect. At present there are very few high quality data regarding the placement stability history of young people in out-of-home care in Australia or other countries. OBJECTIVES: To undertake the first systematic census of background, care type and placement stability characteristics of young people living in the out-of-home care sector in Australia. METHODS: Data was collected from four non-government child and adolescent community service organisations located across metropolitan Melbourne in 2014. The sample comprised 322 young people (females 52.8%), aged between 12 - 17 years (mean age=14.86 [SD=1.63] years). RESULTS: Most young people (64.3%) were in home-based care settings (i.e., foster care, therapeutic foster care, adolescent care program, kinship care, and lead tenant care), relative to residential care (35.7%). However, the proportion in residential care is very high in this age group when compared with all children in out-of-home care (5%). Mean age of first removal was 9 years (SD=4.54). No gender differences were observed for care type characteristics. Three quarters of the sample (76.9%) had a lifetime history of more than one placement in the out-of-home care system, with more than a third (36.5%) having experienced ≥5 lifetime placements. Relative to home-based care, young people in residential care experienced significantly greater placement instability (χ2=63.018, p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Placement instability is common in the out-of-home care sector. Given stable care environments are required to ameliorate psychological trauma and health impacts associated with childhood maltreatment, well-designed intervention-based research is required to enable greater placement stability, including strengthening the therapeutic capacities of out-of-home carers of young people.