Mental health can be described as someone’s overall psychological and emotional wellbeing. A mental health problem is when a situation or problem affects the way someone thinks and feels and leads to them finding it hard to cope with family life, school or the wider world. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion or IQ.
Often, it occurs if someone experiences something traumatic, such as bereavement, bullying or abuse, or a stressful family life, but sometimes it can happen without these triggers. It isn’t the person’s fault and is nothing for them to be ashamed about.
It’s important to remember that just because someone has experienced a mental health problem at some stage in their life, it doesn’t mean they will always have this problem. People may have different ideas and cultural beliefs about mental health. CAMHS respects this and will always try to work with you and your family.
You can refer your child or young person to CAMHS by visiting your GP. Alternatively, your child or young persons school teacher or support worker may refer to CAMHS, if they deem it appropriate.
You and your child or young person will be offered an appointment.
What happens at my child’s first appointment?
The first appointment will help CAMHS staff to make an assessment of your child’s mental health needs (often this can take more than one appointment).
Appointments usually take place at our base, but can sometimes happen at other places such as home or school. We will talk with you about where it’s best to meet.
Children and young people are seen individually and with their parents, carers or families during the assessment. You and your child will meet with one or two professionals. They will ask you a series of questions in order to help understand your current difficulties. If you are not confident speaking English (even if your child is), they can organise for an interpreter to come to the meeting.
How will I be involved?
Professionals encourage families and carers to be a part of the assessment process because you are most likely to be able to provide additional information that can be useful when considering how best to support your child. We may meet you together with your child or separately. It is important to know that you can also ask the professionals questions at this stage and throughout your involvement at CAMHS.
If you would like some time to talk without your child present please let us know.
The CAMHS team may also ask your permission to contact other professionals that know your child, such as teachers, social workers, or family support workers. You can tell them if you are not happy with this.
What questions will they ask?
The professionals will ask you and your child some questions like the ones below:
- What difficulties is your child currently experiencing?
- When did you first notice this?
- Who is around the home, and what is the family structure?
- How does your child get on at school, with friends and teachers?
- How are your child’s mood or stress levels?
- What was your child like as a baby/ at different stages in their childhood (for older children)?
- What are the important things that have happened in your child’s life so far?
- What is your child good at and how do they like to enjoy themselves?
- What would you like your child to change or achieve from coming to CAMHS?
- What type of help do you want?
- Do you know about any risks to your child’s well being or safety?
Once the CAMHS team has completed their assessment, we will talk with you about the options available and your preferences, so that together we can plan and agree the best treatment for your child.
To find out more about the CAMHS journey, please visit:
We offer CAMHS services in the London boroughs of Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, and in Milton Keynes.
Parent or carer participation and feedback
If you would like to get involved or participate in service developments or improvements, please click here to find out more.
We would also welcome your feedback and use this to inform our learning and service improvement programmes.
Help in a crisis
If you require support in a crisis, please see our Help in a mental health crisis page
Local and national resources and information
There are also a range of resources and information available to you, from local to national organisations, and you can find out about these in the your resources section. Here you can review information and what is available by useful websites or apps, by health topic or by borough.
These websites also have a range of fantastic support and resources to help you:
Provides advice and practical support for single parents.
Charity aiming to end child cruelty in the UK. Its website includes support and advice for parents and carers.
Charity for bereaved children. Its website also has information for parents and carers.
Provides support and information for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
Young Minds is a website containing information about wellbeing and mental health for children. It also has a section for parents.
Rethink provides information about looking after your mental health and different mental health problems, with a section for carers, family and friends.
We asked some parents and carers about their experiences of CAMHS. Here’s what they said:
What is it like as a parent or carer of a child coming to CAMHS?
“I am very glad that my child comes to CAMHS. She benefits a lot from the counselling that she has. It helps her to live more fully and deal with school and home. Our relationship has improved so much. It takes time. I find we have to give it time.”
What has CAMHS done to help?
“Firstly, it has helped me with my parenting and helped me to come out of denial about my own shortcomings and negative behaviours. Secondly, it has helped my child overcome intrusive thoughts of self-harm, deal with her thoughts and OCD behaviour.”
“They have taught me how to build a friendly relationship with my child so we can talk about our lives and our problems.”
What would you say to other parents if their child was coming to CAMHS?
“I would say, ‘keep going’. Sometimes family life and circumstances/situations/emotions/behaviours can be difficult. CAMHS can help our children and ourselves to get through and heal.”
“Don’t worry, be open and be strong.”
How is the quality of care monitored?
There are several ways in which the service monitors the quality of the care provided to children/young people and their families.
Firstly, from what children/young people and families tell us from their informal feedback, compliments, complaints and survey results from the national ‘Friends and Family Test’.
We strongly encourage your involvement and feedback as this informs our improvement plans and aim of getting it right first time.
Every clinician has regular professional supervision with a more senior clinician, in which the progress of clients may be reviewed and discussed. The purpose of professional supervision is to ensure that all children and young people being treated at CAMHS receive the most appropriate and effective care.
This is coupled with annual appraisals where clinicians’ progress towards development goals and training needs are reviewed, and appropriate support put in place to ensure staff have the tools to consistently achieve the delivery of great quality care. It also is a review of how staff are living out the Trust’s four core values of ‘compassion’, ‘respect’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘partnership’.
Feedback from our staff is also vital to shape our service improvement aims. We run regular staff listening events and local and annual staff surveys to determine where action needs to be taken in response.
We run a rolling peer quality review programme, where small groups visit and ‘inspect’ other teams’ quality of care against specific standards outlined by our quality and safety regulator, the Care Quality Commission. These reviews inform improvement action plans which are closely monitored to completion and also encourages staff networking, learning and sharing best practice with other teams.
We also have regular quality and safety reviews by our external regulators.
In summary, the above forms just a part of CAMHS’ full programme of clinical governance that is in place. Clinical governance describes the structure put in place by NHS Trusts to make sure that all clients receive the highest possible quality of service. Qualitative and quantitative information from a variety of sources is brought together via quality dashboards and reviewed at regular team, senior team and Divisional Board meetings. The aim is to share learning and monitor quality and safety of care and improvements.