Young People and Mental Health: An update from CAMHS

The last few months have been a bit of a blur, I know. I hope you have been ok and managing to figure out a new way of living and working in these unprecedented times…

My name is Priya and I’m a doctor working in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. My job is to integrate my medical and psychiatric training in order to assess, support and treat young people aged anywhere between 0 to 18 years.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are part of the NHS. We are a specialist multi-disciplinary team composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, child psychotherapists, family therapists, occupational therapists, art therapists, social workers, pharmacists and more!

For many young people, coming to CAMHS and sitting face to face with a mental health professional is daunting, but also an important and essential element of recovery. It is the opportunity to talk about the things that have been difficult, the worries and fears that might be burdensome and also the opportunity to talk about mental health more broadly.

We understand just how difficult the last few months have been for young people. The rapid change to existing ways of living and working, sudden school closures, dramatic alterations to daily routines, family discord and home stress are just a handful of the difficulties facing enormous numbers of young people. Combined with a sense of powerlessness or lack of control over the events taking place; we know how tough a time it has been.

Like the rest of the NHS, we have had to rapidly adapt to novel and innovative ways of working in order to ensure we continue to provide young people with the best possible care we can. This has meant some changes to the way we see and support young people. For example, lots of community CAMHS teams have switched to offering virtual appointments for things like initial assessments, follow up, individual and family therapy, medication monitoring and more. Face to face appointments remain in place for urgent assessments which cannot be facilitated via virtual means, but we have to wear personal protective equipment in order to make this as safe as possible for everyone.

I know this change to working practice hasn’t always been the most slick and seamless of experiences! I’ve had my fair share of technology failure, the wifi dropping out or something just not functioning as I want it to. I also appreciate how challenging it can be for young people to find a private space to talk on the phone; and I also know there are many young people who don’t have access to electronic devices in the first instance.

It hasn’t been easy and we know it. This is why in CAMHS we are doing everything we can to make sure we continue to provide the best care and support we can, now and in the coming months.

To all our wonderful young people of the past, present and future; thank you so very much for working with us.

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