Child and adolescent mental health services
The service caters for young people up to 16-years-old, although some CAMHS services extend to 18 years for young people in full-time education.
What can CAMHS help with?
The range of mental health problems experienced by children and teenagers is broad and can include anxiety, eating disorders, depression, attempted suicide, psychosis, ADHD, complex bereavement, relationship difficulties and school related problems, all of which the CAMHS team has experience with dealing with.
How do you contact CAMHS?
A young person must be referred to CAMHS by a health professional familiar with the case. This will usually be the family GP. CAMHS also accept referrals from other senior health professionals such as public health nurses, social workers, speech and language therapists or educational psychologists.
Who is on the CAMHS team?
The CAMHS team is made up of health professionals who are experienced in working with children and teenagers with mental health difficulties. The team consists of a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, registrar, clinical psychologist, clinical nurse specialist, social worker, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and administrative staff.
What help is available from CAMHS?
Often the most important help that CAMHS offer is to talk with and listen to young people and their families. While each case is different, some of the following approaches may be recommended:
- individual work
- family work
- art and play therapy
- cognitive behavioural therapy
- group work
- parenting courses
- social skills groups
What to expect
CAMHS usually invite both the young person and their parents/guardians to attend the first appointment. The family will meet one or more members of the team. Sometimes CAMHS meet all the family together, other times they meet parents separately. The meeting will include asking questions about development, school progress, general health and relevant family history. In some situations CAMHS will discuss the possibility of a home visit and/or seek parent(s) permission to visit the person’s school.
Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to give the parents feedback on the findings of the assessment and discuss what help may be needed. The family GP will be kept informed of the young person’s progress.
The team approach to CAMHS
All CAMHS work is team focused. All assessments are discussed with the team. All of the interventions are planned by the team in collaboration with the young person and their family. While the team’s approach is primarily child-centred they work closely with parents and carers.
How long with it take?
The waiting time for the service will depend on the severity of the need. Once seen, most problems don’t disappear overnight. Some problems may resolve very quickly and require only two or three meetings. However, in other instances, regular meetings over a period of months may be needed.
Confidentiality for both the young person and their family is an essential element of the CAMHS service. Generally the information the young person shares with their therapist is kept in confidence. However, if concerns arise about the child’s safety and welfare then parents and other services are informed as necessary.
For more information go to the Irish College of General Practitioners.