The problem with CAMHS

In the UK, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a service offered to young people under the age of 18 who are struggling with mental health difficulties. In 2018, there were over 13,000 new referrals to CAMHS. The service claims that all young people needing treatment will get help within four weeks.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

A study done by the HSJ showed that more than 500 children needing intensive treatment have been waiting over a year to start their treatment, and half of over 11,000 children needing treatment waited more than 18 weeks following their initial assessment. Only 14% began treatment within four weeks. That’s only with 30 of the 50 care providers approached by the HSJ offering figures – 20 of the CAMHS providers declined comment.

Young people are waiting a long time for their initial assessment, too, with only 30% of children being assessed within four weeks of referral, and almost a thousand waiting for over a year. The HSJ found that some mental health trusts did not know how many people young people were waiting for assessment, or how long they would have to wait.

Marc Bush, the director of policy, said “Many young people are facing unacceptable waits, and many parents don’t know where to turn to get help for their children.”

Even after the assessment and the excruciating wait times, though, things aren’t going to plan. Many young people find the workers condescending and unhelpful. “They don’t listen,” claimed 17-year-old Finley Walcott. “They just want to check you off their list.”

The CAMHS team in Plymouth refused comment.

With young people facing such long wait times and not getting the help they need, is it any wonder parents are at their wits end?

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