Before I tell you about the things I think new CAMHS parents should be told, I will give you some background about me and my parent’s experience with CAMHS, as well as what’s prompted me to write this. Just a quick disclaimer, this is what I think would help parents based off my own experiences and what I have seen other friends with various mental illnesses and SEN go through. This is my opinion and I hope it helps you or is interesting to read.
I was admitted to CAMHS aged 14 in March 2014, with suicide plans, severe psychosis and anorexia nervosa amongst other issues. It was one of the worst times for not only me but my parents too. They struggled hugely especially with how badly my psychosis went downhill. I was discharged in August 2016 and have got so much better over the years, whilst my parents have been amazing throughout. I’m no longer in crisis and out the other end of frequent severe psychotic episodes, now managed with medication. Recently my girlfriend has been referred to CAMHS and her parents have struggled to come terms with it, which is what has made me want to write this post. I’d love to involve my actual parents in a post, so might interview them for a blog post at a later point. Next week I will be doing another post like this but instead for the child instead of their parents. So, here it is.
- It is going to be a long journey ahead. Even if your time with CAMHS is short, whatever is affecting your child is probably not going to be solved or fixed immediately. Be prepared for this, there is usually not a quick fix.
- You need to take each day one at a time. Because of how each day can be an unknown and often we don’t know how long things are going to last, taking each day one at a time can help to cope with it.
- You will learn true compassion.
- Your child is not going to be locked up. Inpatient is a worst case scenario, and even then the ‘locked up’ you may be thinking of is more like a secure unit, not just usual inpatient. You will be informed fully if they are even considering inpatient as an option.
- Demand more support. When you think you child needs more help, be loud so that they have to listen.
- Keep your child’s support system strong and balanced. It should include family, friends, therapists and school teachers.
- Encourage their independence. This is important in all cases and also vital if you are with CAMHS for a long time because your child may often miss opportunities if there are other priorities like keeping them safe. Talk to the team about this and work out what’s more important and how things will be effected short VS long term.
- Remember that CAMHS are not always going to be there, they might care but this is their job. It’s good to be grateful but remember they are being paid to help you.
- The crisis team is an excellent idea in theory however they are limited and have to prioritise incredibly sick children over very sick children and that is hard.
- The appointments made are not reliable. Prepare your child for dealing with this, especially if your child doesn’t cope well with change because of something like mental illness or autism.
I would really like to know what anyone else thinks or has anything to add. Please feel free to comment. I’ll see you soon.