The Strenghts and Difficulties Assessment to Measure Mental Health Difficulties in Children

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I have chosen the Strengths and difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The SDQ is completed at the start and end of each case that is referred to the service I work for. I have changed all names and omitted addresses for anonymity and patient confidentiality in accordance with the nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct (NMC, 2004). I have chosen to follow the personal text (Webb C 1992) for this assignment. The model of reflection I have chosen to use is Gibbs, often used within my clinical supervision.

The service I work for is a government initiative. A three-year pathfinder programme aimed at supporting the development of innovative models of therapeutic and holistic mental health support in schools for children/adolescents and their families for children aged 5-13 and may be at risk of experiencing, mental health problems. Promotes social and emotional well being in schools (NICE 2008) through using evidence based practice as set out by Every Child Matters April (2008), Department of Education May (2010) It is a Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS).

The service comes under Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Camhs) with the same policies, procedures and protocols of Camhs. Practitioners can refer into tier threeor four services should this be the appropriate pathway for children and their families. It is hoped TaMHS will reduce the amount of inappropriate referrals made to tier three/four services of Camhs. (Camhs 2008) There is no evidence to show a reduction in inappropriate referrals to Camhs, as this is a pilot project the ten identified schools are not borough wide and therefore does not represent the school population of the borough.

Goodman (1997) started to revamp the Rutter MA (1967) questionnaire by modernizing its subject matter; he added things that also identified the strengths of child. This lead to the development of the SDQ designed by Goodman R (1997) to measure psychological adjustment in children and adolescents and then the extended version of the SDQ Goodman MA (1999) Vostains (2006) found it to be short questionnaire with 25 questions, easy to complete, user friendly asking positive and negative questions that queries positive and negative attributes and produces a total difficulties score and five subscale scores.

The SDQ is not restricted to measuring one area of behaviour, it divides equally among five sub scale scores, It measures Emotional Symptoms, Conduct Symptoms, Hyperactivity – Inattention, Peer Problems and Prosocial then establishes a profile of the child /adolescent. It includes positively worded items designed to increase acceptability with parents and other informants (Goodman 1997)


My service lead gave two reasons why we use the SDQ, they were, internationally recognised, as a brief useful screening tool for mental health problems and it is free. I researched legistration why the SDQ was the chosen assessment tool, Camhs Outcome Research Consortium CORC. (2005) recommended the SDQ. I feel anxious this was not mentioned to me , I am employed by Children and Young Peoples Service and knowledgeable on current legist ration within local government but I can feel unclear on health guidelines/legist ration. I feel it is difficult to expect parent/carers and education staff to understand why or the relevance of completing questionnaires/ assessments if I do not know why assessments are implemented within my service. I now know that CORC started in 2002 with five services expanding to wider services in April 2004. The aims are, to foster the effective and routine use of outcome measures in work with children and young people who experience mental health and emotional well-being difficulties.

The CORC Handbook (2005) recommended that services be encouraged to use the set of measures that have been agreed to evaluate the parent, the child and teacher/ the practitioners/clinicians perspective. I feel having this knowledge will help to...
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