Our second webinar in our conference series – On the Journey: Navigating Mental Health

“Webinar: What works to improve the mental health of care-experienced children and young people: Systematic review evidence”

Presenter: Dr Rhiannon Evans , DECIPHer

Time: 16:00-17:00 GMT+1

Date: 15/11/23

Location: ZOOM, Online


The mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced children and young people remains a major concern. To date, it has not been clear which programmes might effectively address these outcomes, or prevent suicide, in the UK. We undertook a systematic review of international evidence to understand what programmes work, how they work, and what might be the challenges to delivery and engagement. We identified a total of 64 programmes, reported across 124 studies. The majority of programmes originated and were evaluated in the USA.

Overall, programmes showed some positive impacts on mental health in the shorter term, but not in the longer term. There were insufficient data on wellbeing and suicide. Barriers to delivery included: lack of resources; the effort of delivery and participation; difficult interprofessional relationships; and programmes not being responsive to carer or young people’s needs. We undertook seven stakeholder consultations with care-experienced young people, carers, and health and social care professionals in Wales to reflect on the review findings. They recommended that in future, programmes should focus on providing mentoring by other care-experienced individuals and supporting system change through the introduction of attachment and/or trauma-informed practice models. Programmes should also aim to promote wellbeing and prevent suicide-related outcomes.


Dr Rhiannon Evans is a Reader in Social Science and Health at the DECIPHer research centre at Cardiff University. Her research is focused on methods for the development and evaluation of evidence-based programmes. She is particularly interested in programmes to support mental health and wellbeing, and prevent suicide, among child and young people that have experience of being in care.