Publish date: 12 August 2022

This International Youth Day (Friday 12 August), West London NHS Trust is shining a light on one of its services which was shaped with the input of young people.

Speak CAMHS is a specialist helpline, which is available to young people and anyone with any concerns they have regarding the mental health of children and young people aged under 18, who live in Ealing, Hounslow, Hammersmith and Fulham.

The service was launched in April 2022 and has since gone from strength to strength.

The helpline is run by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) professionals from the Trust, who are familiar with local services and have a range of specialist knowledge.

Amar Bhoobun is a senior clinical nurse specialist, who helps manage the service. He explained how young people played a crucial role in its development.

Amar said: "Generally we help provide advice and clarity about what people need to do and where they need to go to receive support.

"It's a helpline not a crisis line, so we listen to them and find out what they want and what would help.

"What we try to do is think with them together in the moment and try and discuss how to solve the problem.

"Sometimes that involves emergency services but quite often by giving them the space to talk things through, they can come to their own solutions."

As well as, helping guide the aims and objectives of the service, young people helped name it and helped create the first advertising campaign.

Ahead of its launch, we asked young people to take part in a competition to name the new helpline.

The name 'Speak CAMHS' was the winning entry from both Lily and Melik pictured above.

Speaking about the service, Lilly said: "Creatively contributing towards the new helpline has been a great honour. As a former service user, I know the importance of services feeling accessible and comfortable - so I hope the helpline will enable young people to feel as though they can use the support offered when necessary.” 

Melik added: “The helpline was a great idea and I was glad to be a part of it. Winning the competition was exciting and gave me a sense of accomplishment. I remember being shown my name suggestion on paper in a real format in one of the group sessions and I felt as though I contributed meaningfully. I think the new Speak CAMHS line will help young people express their feelings and worries in crisis moments.” 

Melik also won the Speak CAMHS competition to create an advertising campaign for the helpline and you can watch his winning video below. 

The helpline is available to anyone, which includes: children and young people, their families, carers, CAMHS colleagues, and other professionals, such as GPs, social workers and teachers.

It aims to support some children and young people who have a safety plan, which they may have formulated with their community or other specialist care teams, to put into action and minimise any potential risks.

The purpose of the helpline is to avoid and de-escalate periods of crisis for children and young people, therefore reducing visits to emergency departments and avoiding admissions to psychiatric hospitals. 

How to contact Speak CAMHS: 

Call 0800 328 4444 and choose Option 2 for CAMHS. 

The helpline is open: 

  • Monday to Friday from 8am to 11pm                      

  • Weekends and Bank holidays from midday to 8pm 

You can find out more about International Youth Day here