What do parents perceive are the barriers and facilitators to accessing psychological treatment for mental health problems in children and adolescents? A systematic review of qualitative and quantitative studies.
Reardon T., Harvey K., Baranowska M., O'Brien D., Smith L., Creswell C.
A minority of children and adolescents with mental health problems access treatment. The reasons for poor rates of treatment access are not well understood. As parents are a key gatekeeper to treatment access, it is important to establish parents' views of barriers/facilitators to accessing treatment. The aims of this study are to synthesise findings from qualitative and quantitative studies that report parents' perceptions of barriers/facilitators to accessing treatment for mental health problems in children/adolescents. A systematic review and narrative synthesis were conducted. Forty-four studies were included in the review and were assessed in detail. Parental perceived barriers/facilitators relating to (1) systemic/structural issues; (2) views and attitudes towards services and treatment; (3) knowledge and understanding of mental health problems and the help-seeking process; and (4) family circumstances were identified. Findings highlight avenues for improving access to child mental health services, including increased provision that is free to service users and flexible to their needs, with opportunities to develop trusting, supportive relationships with professionals. Furthermore, interventions are required to improve parents' identification of mental health problems, reduce stigma for parents, and increase awareness of how to access services.