Objectives: This study set out to profile the diagnoses and level of suicidal behaviour of adolescents aged 12-15 years newly referred to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). Information on the nature and range of disorders and level of functional impairment among adolescents attending outpatient CAMHS is important for service planning and development.
Methods: A total of 100 newly referred adolescents were assessed using the KSADS-PL standardised interview. Overall level of functional impairment was measured using The Clinical Global Impressions Scale and The Children's Global Assessment Scale.
Results: Results showed that the majority of adolescents had more than one disorder, with almost one quarter having four or more disorders. Behavioural disorders were the most common diagnostic category, followed by anxiety disorders, and affective disorders. Although relatively uncommon, levels of functional impairment were highest in those with psychotic disorders, followed by substance abuse disorders. The most common pattern of comorbid disorders were depressive disorders plus anxiety disorders, followed by anxiety disorders plus behavioural disorders and depressive disorders plus behavioural disorders. One quarter of the young people had engaged in suicidal acts in the six months prior to attendance, while this had been the case in over one half of those with a depressive disorder.
Conclusion: This study showed that adolescents attending CAMHS tend to have multiple disorders, high levels of suicidality, and are significantly functionally impaired. These factors need to be taken into account in the development of effective treatments.