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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Information about Alder Hey CAMHS for familiesHere are some questions young people have asked us. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, please call us on 0151 293 3662 and we will be happy to have a chat with you.

How can we access CAMHS?

If you are worried about your child’s emotional and mental health, you can seek a referral from any professional connected with your child (e.g. GP, Social Worker, Health Visitor, School Nurse or Teacher).

Every weekday we have a team of experienced mental health professionals who look at the referrals that we receive.  Their task is to decide whether it looks from the information as if CAMHS is the right service to help, they then decide whether the referral should be treated as urgent or routine.  Urgent appointments are seen within two weeks and routine appointments are seen as soon as possible (and within the maximum wait time of 18 weeks).

What to expect at your first appointment?

Your first appointment is called a ‘Choice’ appointment.  We call it this because we hope to give children, young people and families and carers as much choice as possible in the plans that are made to start helping.

You will meet with an experienced member of our team who will work with you to develop an initial shared understanding of the difficulties. We will be asking you what you are worried about, what you have already tried and what you would like to change.  We will help you to think about whether our service or other services are best placed to help.  We will also be considering risk, what you might be able to do for yourselves and what the intervention options are.  Ultimately, your ‘Choice’ appointment(s) should help bring you to a point where you can make an informed decision about what is needed.

Your ‘Choice’ Clinician will then direct you to the most appropriate part of our service if we think that CAMHS interventions are likely to be helpful and effective.  In most cases, the next person you meet will be your ‘Partnership’ Clinician who will oversee any on-going care.

What happens next?

We hope that between your ‘Choice’ and ‘Partnership’ appointments that the advice you have been given and the changes you begin to make will have been helpful.  There are several aims of the first ‘Partnership’ session.  Firstly, there will be a chance to revisit your goals and see if these have changed at all. We will also begin a more in depth assessment to reach a shared understanding and develop a plan of action and support.

Your ‘Partnership’ Clinician will have a set of core clinical skills, mental health training, experience and expertise.  However, you are experts in your own family and your own experiences and we will work in partnership with you to offer as many or as few sessions as are needed to move towards your goals.  On average, seven or eight sessions appear to be enough to achieve some meaningful change; however, decisions about on-going care or discharge will be made at regular review appointments.  The care that you receive will also be discussed within a Multi-disciplinary team.

Sometimes, your ‘Partnership’ Clinician will want to introduce another therapist to you or your child.  This would be to add a specific assessment or therapy skill to your bespoke package of intervention.  This might be about providing a short piece of intensive work/assessment or a longer term piece of work at an enhanced level.

In general, the care that your family and your child would fall in to the following areas:

  • Consultation and Multi-Agency Work
  • Extended Assessment
  • Individual Therapeutic Interventions
  • Family Interventions
  • Group Based Interventions
  • Training

How do we measure change?

We are committed to delivering high quality, evidence-based and effective support.  From the beginning of your involvement with us we will be monitoring the impact of any interventions.  You will be asked to fill in some questionnaires that will be repeated throughout the time that we spend with you and your family.  The questionnaires will help us to determine the severity of difficulties and will also help us to monitor change over time.  We will also ask you to feed back to us about your experience of our service.

The measures that we use are part of our involvement with the Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies initiative.

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