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Parents: what happens at CAMHS?

CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. The Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) teams offer specialist mental and emotional health support to children, young people (age 0-18 years) and their families.

The support we give is part of a wider group of agencies to make sure that young people who need specialist treatment can get help when they need it. The CAMHS teams offer a specialist mental health assessment. We will work with the young person to create a care plan

Our teams are made up of:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Mental health practitioners
  • Various therapists
  • CAMHS social workers

Some of the types of problems CAMHS can help with include:

  • depression
  • eating difficulties
  • low self-esteem
  • anxiety
  • obsessions or compulsions
  • sleep problems
  • self-harming and the effects of abuse or traumatic events
  • violent or angry behaviour

My child has been referred to CAMHS– what happens next?

Referrals to our service usually come from your GP or other health professionals. Once your child has been referred to CAMHS, they will receive an appointment letter from one of our professionals. You may also get a telephone call to see if you have received the letter and to check if you are able to attend the appointment. We will always do our best to accommodate a convenient appointment date and time.

For this first appointment, it is up to your child and you to decide who is best to attend to give an understanding of the problem. You can come with your child or it may be appropriate to bring along other family members.

How long will we have to wait for the first appointment?

You might need to wait a few weeks for your child’s appointment. If you are concerned that you may have to wait too long because your child’s problem is very serious or getting worse, you should discuss it with the person making the referral. If necessary they will be able to contact CAMHS and ask for the referral to be treated more urgently.

What if my child’s problems get worse whilst we are on the waiting list?

If your child’s problem is very serious or getting worse, you should discuss it with the person making the referral. If necessary they will be able to contact CAMHS and ask for the referral to be treated with more urgency.

In an emergency, you should contact your GP or ring NHS Direct on 111 or take your child to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

The first appointment

At the first appointment you and your child will meet one or two people working in the CAMHS team. We will speak to your child, ask questions about how they are feeling and what might be causing them to feel this way. We will also ask for your input throughout the assessment. If your child is over 16 we may ask to see them on their own for some of the appointment.

You will probably have questions of your own and we can answer these at the appointment. You may want to sit down before you come to see us and think of any questions you want to ask so you can bring these along with you.

What happens next?

After the first meeting, we will send a letter to you to explain what we discussed and planned together, and what will happen next.

Sometimes your first appointment may be all that you and your family need to move on and manage the current difficulties. If further CAMHS support is needed, an appointment will be offered to discuss further options of help and support.

At this next meeting we will discuss and jointly agree your child’s own care plan.

A care plan details what services are being offered to your child and you and the reasons why. Next steps may involve your child meeting a team member on an individual basis, working within a group setting with other young people with similar difficulties or there may be the need for further specialist assessment sessions to work out what type of support will be best for your child.

We aim to make your child feel as comfortable as possible. Please try not to worry as we are here to help.

Therapeutic interventions – for more information about some of the interventions we offer click here.

Confidentiality – more information

You and your child may be worried about who will find out that you are coming to CAMHS. We are a confidential service but there are some people we will need to speak to so we can provide the best care for your family. The person seeing you and your child will explain how and with whom any information you give might be shared

As we are a health service we need to let your child’s General Practitioner (GP) know that you’ve been to see us and that we are offering your child a plan of care. We need to send a copy of our letters to you and to the person who has referred you.

We may also like to speak to other people in your child’s life, for example, school teachers or health staff.

Your involvement

If your child is under 16 years old, you will be fully involved in their treatment and care. If your child is 16 years and over, we may agree to see them on their own and write to them only. These decisions will be based on what we know about them from the person who has referred them and what we have agreed in the assessment appointment.

We would only need to breach this confidentiality if the young person told us that they were, or someone else was in danger or at risk, and if this was the case we would discuss this with them.