Friday, 3 February 2017

My Experience with CAMHS

So I haven't posted in a while, but since it's child mental health awareness week next week, I thought I'd write something on how'll my experience with the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) over the years.

I was first referred to CAMHS in early 2014 I think, but I'd been struggling for a while before hand. My mum took me to my GP who made the referral and said I should be seen within a few weeks. Three months later I finally got seen for an 'initial assessment'. I got asked a few questions about my personal life, only to be told I'd be put on a waiting list for an 'urgent' referral for the specialist community team. But what came from that? Another six months of waiting with absolutely no news.

My mum, desperate by now as my mental state was increasingly deteriorating, enrolled me in private counselling. Which I found mildly helpful, but the fees were steep. So back to the GP it was, as the counseller was becoming worried that he couldn't cope with me and I needed more help. Surprise surprise, I was re-referred to CAMHS. Nothing again, and three weeks later, I attempted to take my own life. I can't imagine what my parents were thinking as I still hadn't had any help whatsoever from CAMHS! So off I went to my local A&E.

I was seen by a duty CAMHS worker the next morning after they said I was fit and well with no long lasting internal damage. To my body that is... and off I went, armed with mindful colouring sheets and a sheet on anxiety to help me in my struggles. Just what I needed.

The next week, I was told I'd be seeing a duty practitioner at my local CAMHS. Rose, as she was called, even though half the time she even forgot her own name, asked me to rate how likely I was to try to take my own life again. Despite the fact that I rated 7/10, she declared me low risk and sent me home. I saw her weekly from then on, which no surprise, was completely and utterly unhelpful. I was told to 'relax my mind and I'll be fine'.

Three weeks after the previous incident, I disclosed to my mum in a text message that I was going to kill myself on this date and that there was nothing anyone could do to stop me as I was fed up. It was a cry of complete and utter despair, saying I was sorry for the trouble and upset I had caused my family. GP said she needs to go to my nearest A&E and refuse to leave until I got the help I needed, FINALLY, this got through to someone and I was kept on the children's ward.

Four days later, a psychiatrist came to see me, who diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, and talked me through the option. That night it was decided that they would look for a bed on a child and adolescent psychiatric unit. Two days later, I was off to the unit. Still not having received any help from CAMHS. Why did it have to come to this before anyone would see me?

5 months later I was discharged, finally with a CAMHS team to keep me going out in the community. But it's completely shocking what I had to go through in order to reach their radar. The funding at the moment is absolutely awful and something needs to be done about it. If children could be seen when their issues first arise, there would be no need for money going into inpatient beds and specialist care. It took them to the point where I was on the edge of my own life, to even see me, and talk about some form of care. It's disgusting really.

If you notice that you or somebody else start struggling - get on the waiting list ASAP because who knows how long it could be before you're seen. Do it sooner rather than later. Please share this too, in order to help raise awareness for how poorly funded CAMHS is and maybe something just might be done about it. There's so many stories in the news at the moment about children and teenagers commuting suicide - but it doesn't have to come to that! If they were to have received the help they needed sooner, it wouldn't have reached that stage. But sadly, with the current NHS status, things aren't going to be looking up anytime soon, but maybe we can change that together