1st Edition

Working with Child and Adolescent Mental Health: The Central Role of Language and Communication

By Susan McCool Copyright 2024
    248 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    248 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    In children, mental health challenges and communication differences typically combine in complex and inter-related ways. Remarkably, this crucial point is all too often forgotten, and communication is overlooked. Services are frequently fragmented, leading professionals to look at children through distinct lenses of either mental health or communication, meaning insights can be incomplete and important perspectives unshared.

    Working with Child and Adolescent Mental Health makes the compelling case that communication is central and should be a primary consideration whenever we think about children’s mental health. With a practical focus, and an easy- to-read format, it suggests how this can be achieved by identifying how practitioners and services can work more cohesively to understand and optimise children’s communication capacities.

    This book includes:

    • Practical advice, grounded in current research, and presented in an easy-to-read, digestible style
    • Guidance to help practitioners competently and compassionately identify and respond to the needs of children and young people with complex combined communication and mental health needs
    • Real-life case studies from a wide range of settings, unpicked to clearly illustrate topics discussed in the book and offer encouragement and inspiration to practitioners
    • Checklists and questionnaires to help practitioners in daily practice
    • Recommendations for, and links to, useful additional resources
    • Tools to support reflection and enhancement for individual practitioners and services

    Essential reading for speech and language therapists, psychologists, mental health practitioners, educators, social workers, and anyone else concerned with children’s wellbeing and resilience, this book highlights the transformational impact of placing communication at the heart of all efforts to support children and young people’s mental health.


    List of Tables


    Chapter 1: The central role of language and communication

    Chapter 2: Ways of thinking about mental health and communication

    Chapter 3: Practitioner competencies

    Chapter 4: Learning from experience

    Chapter 5: Considering social communication in children and young people

    Chapter 6: Responding to social communication needs

    Chapter 7: Changing contexts and cultures



    Susan McCool is a speech and language therapist whose career has combined clinical practice, university education, advising and consulting, research, and writing. She has extensive clinical experience with children who have complex profiles, in a wide range of settings. Susan has contributed to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as an adviser in autism, and as a reviewer of its webpages on social, emotional, and mental health. She was involved in developing the curriculum guidelines for speech and language therapy courses in UK universities and is currently a Principal Teaching Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

    “Addressing mental health needs in children and young people is one of the most urgent challenges of our time. McCool makes a compelling case for placing social communication at the centre of managing these needs. This book is essential reading for all speech-language pathologists involved in the care of these clients.”

    Louise Cummings, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China

    “This is an important book for anyone who wants to support young people’s mental health, offering both theoretical and practical insights. Communication support needs are often overlooked in young people with mental health issues although they can have devastating implications, not least on the efficacy of any intervention offered.”

    Melanie Cross, Speech and language therapist, author, and video interaction guidance supervisor

    “The format of this book is beautifully balanced: it is authoritative, yet concisely and clearly written; it is highly practical yet packed with useful information. It will go a long way towards closing the gap between speech and language therapy and the rest of the child mental health world.”

    Helen Minnis, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Glasgow, Scotland

    "This book is an excellent resource for SLTs working, in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and anywhere else where a child or young person has mental health needs. It is the book I have been waiting for since I started working in an inpatient CAMHS service. The book is full of useful resources which can be used straight away, and it is written in a very accessible format. There are very clear examples of why it is so important to look at both communication and mental health and it describes how these are so intertwined. I feel it is also a useful resource for other mental health professionals to help them understand why SLTs are so important in mental health settings." - Hayley Rosenthall, Advanced Specialist SLT, RCSLT Bulletin, Winter 23/24