Parent perspectives on children and young people's mental health services in Victoria – What's wrong and how to fix it: A multi-site qualitative study

Harriet Hiscock, Ann Siobhan Connolly, Katie Dunlop, Prescilla Perera, Rachel O'Loughlin, Stephanie J. Brown, David M. Krieser, Adam West, Pauline Chapman, Robyn Lawford, John A. Cheek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The number of children and young people presenting to emergency departments (EDs) with anxiety and depression is increasing. We aimed to determine parent perspectives on: (i) barriers to accessing non-ED mental health services; and (ii) improving access in the paediatric mental health service system. Methods: Qualitative study with parents of children and young people aged 0–19 years who attended one of four EDs across Victoria between October 2017 and September 2018 and received a primary diagnosis of anxiety or depression. Exclusion criteria: child or young person without a parent/guardian, or presented with self-harm or suicide attempt. Eligible participants completed semi-structured phone interviews. Interviews were recorded and transcripts were coded and analysed using content analysis. Results: A total of 72 parents completed interviews. The average child age was 14 years (standard deviation 2.5) and two thirds identified as female (64%). A total of 57% of children and young people presented with a primary diagnosis of anxiety. Parents reported barriers in accessing care including: service shortages and inaccessibility, underresourced schools, lack of clinician mental health expertise, lack of child-clinician rapport, inconsistent care, financial constraints, lack of mental health awareness among parents, and stigma. Parents want expanded and improved access to services, more respite and support services, supportive schools, and improved mental health education for parents. Conclusions: Parents of children and young people attending the ED for anxiety and depression are generally dissatisfied with services for child mental health. Solutions that enable parents to better care for their child in the community are needed to improve care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1114-1120
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent
  • anxiety
  • child
  • depression
  • health services accessibility
  • mental health service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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