Worried About Your Child?
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. We work with children and young people up to the age of 18 who are experiencing significant emotional or mental health problems in the Lichfield and Burntwood area. This includes low mood, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, tics, deliberate self-harm, psychosis and those who have experienced trauma or disrupted attachment during key times of development. We do have a specialist remit around mental ill-health and do not routinely manage problems with behaviour unless a clear mental health component is present. For young people where there are concerns about a potential eating disorder we have a specialist eating disorder service covering South Staffordshire.
If you have concerns about your child’s mental health then a referral can be made by a professional involved with your child. This could be a GP, counsellor, teacher or social worker for example. Once the referral is received by CAMHS it will be screened by the team. As we are a specialist service it may be that we advise intervention from another local service that provides emotional and behavioural support locally such as YESS and Family Support amongst others. If this is the case you will be informed and made aware how to access this support. For referrals that are accepted to the service we will deem them either Urgent, in which there are significant concerns about potential risk to self and will be seen within 1 week or otherwise they will be deemed Routine and seen within 8 weeks. At Lichfield CAMHS we have averaged a 4 week wait to assessment for the past 3 years. If you are worried about how long you have to wait for an appointment then please follow the guidance here.
Healthy Minds have very good support and advice available to parents such as the Parents Guide To Support A-Z and the Parents Survival Guide. They also have a Parents Helpline for free from Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm on 0808 802 5544.
We are running a "Rocky Road" parent led support group. For more information please click the link below;
Who Are We?
Our CAMHS team includes a variety of professionals from different disciplines and details about team members can be found in the About Us section.
All our CAMHS professionals are trained and experienced in working with young people with mental health problems. They may also have some specialist skills, which they may use for specific conditions or treatments.
The Assessment Process
At the first assessment appointment you will meet with one of the members of our team who will explain to you about how the service works, about confidentiality and will then spend time getting to know your child, the family and gain an understanding of your concerns. There are times where 1 appointment is not enough to gain enough information so another may be needed. After the assessment is complete, the case is discussed within the team and a plan is decided. This may involve ongoing support from the person you met at assessment, another member of the team or possibly another service that may be deemed the best source to support with the presenting needs. Sometimes the assessment itself helps a young person and family to understand the problems better and no further intervention is needed.
At Lichfield CAMHS we want to involve families in the assessment and work done within CAMHS where appropriate. If your child is under 16 this is important as we need consent from both parent and young person dependant on whether the young person is felt have Frazer competence to consent to their own treatment or not. There are times when a young person would rather be seen alone and this can be helpful due to worry a young person can have talking openly in front of their loved ones. If your child is seen alone then we do follow rules around confidentiality which are explained here.
Before your first appointment you will be sent some questionnaires to fill out. This includes general information about the young person and family which is important so that are records are accurate. It will also include Routine Outcome Measures (ROM) which we use to better understand the young person’s needs. We may use the same measures later on during treatment to help us look at whether the work we are doing with young people and families is effective.
When you visit a GP or doctor about a physical health problem, they will talk to you about the symptoms and how this is impacting on you. This will often lead to a diagnosis that then guides treatment. In a similar way we will talk to young people and families to gain a better understanding of the problem. There may be times that a diagnosis is appropriate but often we will use a formulation to explain the presenting problems. This involves a wider understanding of the different factors in a young person’s life that are contributing to why they are feeling or acting the way they are. Often a young person will not neatly fit a diagnosis or label and giving one does a disservice to having a true understanding of them as a developing child and what is impacting on them at this time in their life.
Confidentiality means that what you or your child tell us is kept private. There are circumstance in which we may have to share information with others, in particular if we become concerned about your child’s safety or the safety of others. We will always try to discuss with you and your child who we need to talk to and what we’re going to say, in as supportive and open way as we can.
How Can I Help?
Parents and carers have a crucial role in a young persons life. For you to best support their needs it is important that you look after your own too. Worrying about your child can take its toll and its important that you follow the same advice as you give your child. If you are struggling with your own mental health then please speak to someone and seek help. Our resources section is designed to provide support for parents as well as young people.
It is important that parents model positive behaviours and self-care to their children. If your child is stuck in a unhelpful negative cycle with their thoughts and behaviours then how you respond to this is very important. Take your time to think about your response and try to avoid being negative in return. Remember your attitude, good or bad, has an impact on everyone around you.
It can be difficult to know how to act when a young person’s behaviour changes and you start to worry about them. It’s important not to blame yourself, it can be hard managing such stressful situations. Try to keep communication with your child open and positive, that you love and support them unconditionally and you are there for them.
If your young person is presenting with undesirable behaviours it is important to be clear on boundaries. Don’t be afraid to be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable and be consistent how you manage this. This may mean that you are unpopular at times, but your primary role is to make sure that they are safe and well.
As young people get older it is normal to expect changes in their behaviour as a teenager’s brain differs from an adult. The brain doesn’t reach full maturity till the mid-20s. This is complicated further by hormone changes in adolescence. Understanding teenage development will help you to understand why your young person is acting the way they are. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have a toolkit for parents about surviving adolescence here along with other useful advice for parents with concerns about their child.
It is very important that you continue to show that you love your child despite how they may make you feel at times. Keep calm and positive, make sure you educate your child so they can understand the risks of decisions they make such as with drugs, alcohol or sex. Be a good role model for your children with your own behaviours and how you manage your own emotions. There is plenty of help around, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Please remember that children are just that, children, they are developing and susceptible to being negatively affected by things around them. It is unhelpful to see them as the problem needing to be “fixed”. Being understood and supported are key to finding solutions and helping young people feel better in their mental well-being.
Help Us Get It Right
We do really value the input of parents and carers who have come in contact with our service. We welcome feedback and ideas which can be sent to us here or you can become involved in our Parent Participation Group who help to shape the service we offer. Details about being involved in Participation can be found here.
If you have a concern, please speak to a member of staff or you can speak to a senior clinician or the service manager. Further guidance about accessing PALS or making a complaint can be found in the Trust Guidance here.
When giving feedback we do ask that this is done in a constructive way. Like CAMHS across the country we have a small amount of resources for the demand put on us. We are good people trying to do our best to help young people and families in need.