Who we are
CAMHS stands for child and adolescent mental health services. We provide mental health assessment and treatment for children, young people (aged 0-18) and their families living in the London Borough of Ealing.
We’re not a hospital and we don’t have beds, but we do have many different specialists who are experts in children’s and young people’s emotional and mental health
What we do
Our job is to promote emotional wellbeing and provide treatment to children and young people with mental health problems.
We offer talking therapies and medication. We may offer help on an individual, family or group basis. The treatment options will be fully explained and discussed with you.
We also provide advice, consultation and support to schools and other organisations that work with young people.
We employ mental health professionals in a number of multi-agency teams across the borough, which may be led by other agencies, such as Social Services.
How we help
We’re a specialist service, so children and young people may be seen by other services first (eg social workers or doctors). If we think that CAMHS is the right place to help a child, we’ll offer an initial assessment appointment.
At this appointment we meet with children and their parents/carers to find out about the things that are worrying them and to decide whether the child or young person needs our help.
First appointments usually involve both child and parents, but some teenagers may want to be seen alone. We would then offer a separate appointment for the parents.
People that can refer to us work in:
- Health, eg GPs, school nurses, paediatricians.
- Social care, eg social workers, ASSIST workers.
- Education, eg educational psychologists, SENCos.
- Youth justice, eg police, YOT workers.
- Youth work, eg Connexions PAs.
Are you feeling angry, worried or upset?
We all get worried or angry about things that happen to us and this is very normal. But if there is something that makes you feel like this a lot of the time then you might need some extra help.
The best thing to do is speak to someone you trust. This might be your mum, dad or teacher. They will be able to find the right person to help you.
If you want to speak to someone right now then you can phone Childline for help on 0800 1111. It is free and confidential (no one will find out you have called).
Here are some top tips for dealing with our feelings.
First time at CAMHS?
Your first appointment
When you come to see us the first person you meet is our friendly receptionist. She will let the person you are coming to see know that you have arrived. You might sit in our waiting room for a bit – so bring a game or book if you want. Don’t worry though we won’t keep you waiting long!
We will then ask you in to one of our quieter rooms where we can talk without being disturbed. Your mum, dad or carer will be able to come with you.
What sort of stuff will we talk about?
When you first come and see us we will want to get to know you, and find out what life’s been like for you. We might ask you about school or friends or the kind of things you like doing like football or drawing.
You can ask us questions too so before you come, you could write down things you want to say and bring them with you.
Things to remember;
Lots of children like you come to CAMHS for many different reasons
You can ask questions too so please bring them along!
We are here to help you and find ways to make you feel better.
Watch our film about visiting CAMHS
13-18 year olds
Going to hospital
New Models of Care for Children and Young People in crisis.
Children and young people get the best quality of care when they are in their communities, supported by friends, families and local services. If a child or young person is becoming unwell and may need to be admitted, we will look for alternative support and treatment that would allow them to be safely managed at home, close to their family and friends.
When this is not possible and when it becomes absolutely necessary, a hospital bed is needed. In such cases, hospital is the safest place for the young person. This is not an error on the parent’s/family’s part, but a logical next step in keeping the young person safe.
In these cases, New Models of Care Project aims to place the young person as close to home as possible and for the shortest time possible. This is by making sure the right care is in place so that the young person can get back to their family as soon as they are well enough.
FAQs about going to hospital
How long will I be in hospital?
It can vary. It is never the aim to keep young people in for a long time; the aim is always to discharge the young person when they are able to cope in the community without the need for a hospital.
I heard I am going to a private hospital, who pays for my admission?
You and your family don’t have to pay for the hospital bed; it’s all paid for by the NHS. Travel costs to hospital are separate and are generally unpaid for.
I’m being placed very far away from home, can I move closer?
If you’re being placed far away, it’s usually because there is no beds available close by and the risk is too high to wait for one to become available. However, depending on risk of behaviour and bed availability, they are always on a priority list to be placed in a hospital closer to home.
Can I refuse a bed?
If you are under 16, your parents need to give consent for a hospital admission. If you are over 16, you have more of a say.
How many people are on a ward?
It varies, but wards can hold between 10 – 20 beds.
What are CAMHS/Social Services/ School’s roles during the hospital admission?
They will be invited to CRAFT meetings and CPAs (see Jargon Buster), and their role is to be aware of your admission so that when it comes to discharge, they would be able to plan for looking after you in the community.
Getting help when you need it
We can all feel worried, anxious and stressed about things from time to time and it is normal to feel like that. But when these feelings last for a long time you may need some extra help to cope.
Things you or someone you know might be feeling:
- feeling anxious and scared
- hurting yourself or wanting to hurt yourself
- having problems with eating and food
- having problems at school or with friends
- hearing voices or seeing things
- struggling to control your behaviour or temper
If you feel like you need help right now:
We don’t have a helpline here at CAMHS but there are many services that offer help and support to young people just like you.
Talk to Childline
Contact Childline anytime. Calls are free and confidential
Call: 0800 1111
Tell someone you trust
You may find it helpful to talk to your mum, dad or carer. If this is not possible, you may prefer to talk to someone else you can trust, like a teacher.
Talk to your GP
Your GP may be the first person you talk to about how you are feeling. Your GP may refer you to CAMHS if they feel this will help you.
Eating disorders service
We know that young people , and their families and carers, often feel blamed and isolated when they have an eating disorder and we aim to get to know the person behind the eating disorder and draw upon family and community strengths to promote recovery.
If you are a young person or a parent you can now call the service between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on 020 8354 8160 and ask to speak to the Duty Eating Disorders clinician who will discuss your concerns with you.
You might also want to look at the Young minds and choosing what’s best for you websites.
Remember: You’re not alone. One in four of us will experience some kind of mental health problem at some time in our life.
Your CAMHS appointment
f you are referred to CAMHS you will have things explained to you so you know what to expect and you will be able to talk to staff on the phone.
You will be offered an appointment to come and see us. We will aim to see you within 2-3 months but most of the time we will see you before that.
At your first appointment we will want to get to know you and find out what life has been like for you. This is so we can work out the best way to help you. First appointments are sometimes called assessments
It is often important for your family or carers to be involved in the process. You can talk to our staff about who you would like to come to future appointments with you.
We will give you and your parent or carers information to explain how the service works, what everyone’s jobs are and what will happen when you are here.
Types of therapies
Talking about your thoughts and feelings can help you deal with some of the tough times in your life. If something is bothering you and you turn it over and over again in your mind, the worry can grow. But talking about it can help you work out what is really upsetting you and find a way to make things better.
We often find it helpful to talk with a friend or family member, but sometimes friends and family cannot help us and we need to talk to a professional. Talking therapies involve talking to someone who is trained to help you deal with your negative feelings. Here are a few of the common types of talking therapies that we offer at CAMHS.
A person with a mental illness can find it very supportive to have their family understand their illness, give encouragement, and assist them with everyday life. A family therapist helps both the person with the mental illness and those closest to them to understand each other’s feelings and resolve practical day-to-day issues. Family therapy sessions can include carers and friends as well as relatives.
Cognitive behaviour therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel. CBT tends to be short, taking six weeks to six months. You will usually attend a session once a week, each session lasting either 50 minutes or an hour. CBT may focus on what is going on in the present rather than the past. However, the therapy may also look at your past and how your past experiences impact on how you interpret the world now.
Dialectical behaviour therapy
Dialectical behaviour therapy is a psychological therapy for people with borderline personality disorder, with self-harming behaviour or suicidal thoughts. Dialectical behaviour therapy also helps you to change and control your emotions, but it differs from cognitive behavioural therapy in that it focuses on accepting who you are at the same time. Dialectical behaviour therapy therapists aim to balance ‘acceptance techniques’ with ‘change techniques’.
f you are not yet 18 years old you are called a child (or a teenager) under the Children Act 1989. This means that you are protected in law from actions or behaviours of anybody, whether acting alone or as part of a group, who may seek to harm you in any way. This may be physical or sexual harm; it may be harm that happens as a result of your physical and emotional needs being neglected or it may be emotional harm from verbal abuse, which includes bullying.
Often adults or other young people who may seek to hurt you are very well known to you; they may be your mum or dad, they may be your brother or sister; or they may be another relative. They may be at school, or have been a friend at some stage.
If someone is hurting you talk to an adult whom you trust – maybe somebody in your family or perhaps your school teacher. You can speak to your doctor or nurse or therapist in CAMHS, your school nurse, health visitor or doctor or a police officer or Childline. Children and young people can telephone ChildLine on 0800 1111 to talk about any problem.
We’ve listed some of the common medications below and a little bit of information about what each of them are used for. Each medicine has a balance of good and bad effects, and each person gets their own individual effects.
It’s important to remember that one medication that might be great for you might not necessarily work for someone else; you just have to find what works for you.
Lithium is a mood stabiliser medicine. The doctor can prescribe lithium carbonate or for you as a treatment for mania, bipolar disorder, as an extra treatment for low mood that has been difficult to treat or for aggression and self-harming behaviour.
Atomoxetine is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The doctor can provide it to help control the symptoms of ADHD. It has also been used to treat behaviour problems in autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Mirtazapine is an antidepressant medicine and may help in the treatment of schizophrenia. It has also been used in anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar affective disorder. You should start to feel better 1-2 weeks after starting to take mirtazapine but it could take up to 4 weeks to feel its full effect. Remember that you will get the best effect from mirtazapine if you take it regularly every day and give it a chance to help.
Propranolol is a beta-blocker medicine. A beta-blocker medicine helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, like sweating and shaking. It does not treat the feeling of anxiety – only the symptoms that come with it.
Sertraline can be used as a treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder, depression or conditions involving anxiety. It can take a week or two after starting this treatment before the effect builds up and 4-6 weeks before you feel the full benefit. Do not stop taking it after a week or so, thinking that it is not helping.
For more information:
Visit Headmeds – a website for young people with information about medications and common conditions.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People with ADHD might find it hard to concentrate or feel restless a lot of the time. No one really knows what causes ADHD but it tends to run in families. You can get help for ADHD and learn ways to manage how you feel and behave.
Did you know? - Olympic gymnast, Louis Smith has ADHD and he has not done too bad!
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or panic about something that might happen. Everyone gets these feelings from time to time but sometimes you might need extra help to deal with them.
Phobias - A phobia is something in particular you feel very nervous or panicky about. It could be a fear of going outside or a fear of heights.
Autism spectrum disorder makes it hard for a person to deal with the world around them. If you have Autism you might find it difficult to get on with other people or find it hard to understand how they are feeling.
What is the Autistic Spectrum? - All of us are unique so this means that our Autism is also unique. The spectrum descibes all the different ways that Autism can affect you.
Depression can mean a number of symptoms including feeling sad for much of the time, feeling irritable or angry, sleep problems and thoughts about life not being worth living. Someone with depression may think there is little hope and be reluctant or unable to seek help.
How is it treated? Treatment for depression in young people is usually with talking therapy and sometimes medication can also help.
Sometimes how we feel can change the way we eat or how much we eat.
Anorexia - fear of gaining weight. People feel overweight even when they have lost too much weight and are unwell.
Bulimia - eating large amounts of food and then being sick to get rid of the food. People might look normal but are doing lots of harm to their bodies.
Psychosis is a medical word that is used to describe hearing or seeing things that are not really there. This could be hearing voices or feeling like you are being watched.
Can you treat psychosis? - Yes. Psychosis is treated with talking therapy and sometimes medication. If you or someone you know is having these symptoms then it is important to get help early.
Self harm is when a young person chooses to hurt themselves in some way. If you are self-harming you might be cutting or burning yourself or overdosing on tablets. You might do it to punish yourself or relieve stress.
Is it serious? - yes it is very dangerous. If you or a friend is self harming you need to ask for help immediately. Talk to someone you trust or your GP.
Tourette's and tics
Lots of people have tics like sniffing or grunting but sometimes a person has tics for longer and then the GP might diagnose this as Tourette's.
What is a tic? - A tic is a movement or a sound that you do not have control over. Some examples are blinking, clicking teeth or jerking arms. Most people start having fewer ticks when they are a teenager or adult.
Getting help for a friend
If you are worried about someone, it can help to talk about it.
- Try and talk to your friend and ask them to tell you what is wrong.
- It might be very difficult for them to speak about what is wrong, especially if they are scared or worried about what will happen if they do talk.
- If they don’t want to talk to you, suggest that they talk to a teacher or someone else they trust about what is happening.
- If you think your friend might be in danger or are really worried about them, you could tell an appropriate adult, such as a parent, school nurse or teacher.
Will telling someone make me a grass?
No, telling an adult if your friend is having problems won’t make you a grass. It’s hard to support your friends alone if their problems are serious. It’s natural that your friend might not want to tell anyone, and it might be because they are scared but it is OK to talk to someone if you are worried, even if your friend says that they don’t want you to.
For more advice
Epic friends is a website with information about how to help a friend who might be struggling. It also gives you guidance on when you should tell someone else.
At some point you and the staff of the CAMHS team will think about what will happen when you leave CAMHS.
It might be that you are feeling better and no longer need to see CAMHS. Or sometimes you may need to move on to other services, for example if you need more intensive support, or if you reach adulthood and need support from adult services.
You and your family will agree with staff a time when you are ready to leave the service and staff will make sure you know how to get back in touch with us if you need to.
Tips for transitioning to other services
- Before you leave CAMHS you will have a meeting with us to assess your needs. We will work on a care plan with you setting out what support you will get when you move on.
- You will have lots of notice of your transition from CAMHS so you know what to expect and when.
- This is about your life, so you will be involved in the decisions.
- If you are not happy with what’s being offered to you, then please speak to us.
- You will have the right to be heard, and your opinions matter.
Worried about a child
If you are worried about your child a good first step is to talk to a professional who knows them well. This might be a teacher, social worker or GP. They will be able to tell you about possible courses of action, and will often be able to refer your child direct to CAMHS should that prove necessary.
In many cases referral to CAMHS will not be necessary and the professional will be able to offer advice, treatment or tell you about other services that may be able to help you.
If you concerned that your child may be developing an eating disorder, ask your GP to make a referral. You can also self-refer to this service. You can call the service between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on 020 8354 8160 and ask to speak to the Duty Eating Disorders clinician who will discuss your concerns with you.
Please remember: CAMHS is not an emergency service; if you need to get help urgently then you must contact the child’s doctor’s surgery or take them to Accident & Emergency.
What happens at CAMHS
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. We are a specialist NHS service offering assessment and treatment when children and young people have emotional, behavioral or mental health difficulties.
Your child might be referred to CAMHS if they are finding it hard to cope with family life, school or the wider world.
Types of problems CAMHS can help with include;
- violent or angry behaviour
- eating difficulties
- low self-esteem
- obsessions or compulsions
- sleep problems
- self-harming and the effects of abuse or traumatic events
We have been referred – what happens next?
Once your child has been referred to CAMHS, they will receive an appointment letter from one of our professionals. You may also get a telephone call to see if you have received the letter and to check if you are able to attend the appointment. We will usually invite you to come along to the appointment with your child.
How long will we have to wait for the first appointment?
You might need to wait a few weeks for your child’s appointment. If you are concerned that you may have to wait too long because your child’s problem is very serious or getting worse, you should discuss it with the person making the referral. If necessary they will be able to contact CAMHS and ask for the referral to be treated more urgently.
What if my child’s problems get worse whilst we are on the waiting list?
If your child’s problem is very serious or getting worse, you should discuss it with the person making the referral. If necessary they will be able to contact CAMHS and ask for the referral to be treated with more urgency.
In an emergency, you should contact your GP or ring NHS Direct on 111.
The first appointment
At the first appointment you and your child will meet one or two people working in the CAMHS team. We will speak to your child, ask questions about how they are feeling, and what might be causing them to feel this way. We will also ask for your input throughout the assessment. If your child is over 16 we may ask to see them on their own for some of the appointment.
You will probably have questions of your own and we can answer these at the appointment. You may want to sit down before you come to see us and think of any questions you want to ask so you can bring these along with you.
Once we have met with you all, we will then be able to consider the best course of treatment.
What happens next?
After the first meeting, we will send a letter to you to explain what we discussed and planned together, and what will happen next.
If your child is 16 years old and over we may agree to see them on their own and write to them only. These decisions will be based on what we know about the young person from the person who has referred them and what we have agreed in the assessment appointment.
We aim to make your child feel as comfortable as possible. Please try not to worry as we are here to help.
Keeping children safe
All parents have a responsibility to safeguard and protect their children from abuse and neglect, by keeping them safe from anything that would negatively affect their health and well-being.
Most parents bring up their children up in a loving and nurturing environment but all parents worry about their children and teenagers at times. Life can be very stressful for all sorts of reasons.
When we are unwell or are under a lot of stress coping resources can get drained and everyday parenting challenges such as caring for a new baby, responding to the demands of an active toddler, getting children to school or coping with teenagers for example become very difficult. Children and teenagers in families may need additional support at times; some will require active intervention to keep them safe.
If you are worried about your child, or indeed any child, you can talk to your GP, your Health Visitor or your School Nurse.
If you are worried that a child may be abused or neglected contact the free helpline service on 0808 800 5000 in confidence to speak to an NSPCC counsellor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Even if you are unsure, you can contact the NSPCC at any time to discuss concerns about a child, whether it’s your own, a family member, neighbour or a child in the community.
You can also contact the Children’s Social Care department in the Borough in which you live:
Ealing Children’s Social Care (called Ealing Children’s Integrated Response Service)
Telephone: 020 8825 8000
Hammersmith and Fulham Children’s Social Care
Telephone: 020 8753 6600
Hounslow Children’s Social Care
Telephone: 020 8583 3300
Social Services departments want to make sure that children, young people and families living in the borough get the information, advice and guidance they need on local services and different types of support available to them.
You and your child may be worried about who will find out that you are coming to CAMHS. We are a confidential service but there are some people we will need to speak to so we can provide the best care for your family. The person seeing you and your child will explain how and with whom any information you give might be shared
As we are a health service we need to let your child’s General Practitioner (GP) know that you’ve been to see us and that we are offering your child a plan of care. We need to send a copy of our letters to you and to the person who has referred you.
We may also like to speak to other people in your child’s life, for example, school teachers or health staff.
If your child is under 16 years old, you will be fully involved in their treatment and care. If your child is 16 years and over, we may agree to see them on their own and write to them only. These decisions will be based on what we know about them from the person who has referred them and what we have agreed in the assessment appointment.
We would only need to breach this confidentiality if the young person told us that they were, or someone else was in danger or at risk, and if this was the case we would discuss this with them.
Support for you
Young Minds – YoungMinds have a Parents’ Helpline which gives information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25.
Call: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am-4pm)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and your query will be responded to in three working days.
Rethink advice line
Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (10am-2pm Monday to Friday)
Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England and Northern Ireland.
Mind Information Line
Mind provides confidential mental health information services.
With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental distress, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind also has a network of nearly 200 local Mind associations providing local services.
Rethink – The charity Rethink have created a ‘Caring for Yourself’ guide to help people with mental health problems and carers, family and friends. If you support someone with any mental health condition, this guidemay help you.
Family Lives – Family Lives is a charity helping parents to deal with family life. Their role is to support you to achieve the best relationship possible with the children that you care about, as well as supporting parenting professionals.
Parents survival guide –If you think your child is unhappy or if you are worried about their behaviour, it’s easy to be hard on yourself and think you aren’t doing a good job. Young Minds has some advice for any parent who is worried about their child, or their own parenting skills:
More information and advice can be found on the CAMHS dedicated website.
1 Armstrong Way
Tel: 020 8354 8160
Hammersmith & Fulham
48 Glenthorne Road
Tel:020 8483 1979
Heart of Hounslow Centre for Health
92 Bath Road