What to expect from a CAMHS assessment
Your first appointment with CAMHS may be nerve-wracking, but remember that they are there to help. Louisa, 17, shares what you can expect from your CAMHS assessment.
First of all, if you are seeking help for your mental health, you are making such a positive first step into recovery and I am so incredibly proud of you. I can understand that you’re probably quite anxious for your assessment which is perfectly normal, and I hope this blog will help you get a sense of what you might expect from your first appointment.
Some of the details may differ depending on which CAMHS team you meet, so please bear in mind that this is a rough guide.
1. Who will be there with you?
Your parent or guardian will be asked to take you to your appointment and the member of the CAMHS team you see will likely ask to talk to both of you to begin with. However, the CAMHS team member will ask if you’d like your parent/guardian to leave for a bit if you’d like to talk on your own. They might also ask you to leave and just talk to your parent/guardian, but this does not always happen (if this does happen then you will just wait in the waiting room where there are often activities that you can do).
2. What will you discuss?
Firstly, the member of the CAMHS team will probably ask you about your family, such as if you have any siblings. From this they will usually make a family tree, which will help them to understand if there are any family problems that may be causing you distress (such as divorce), and discover the kind of relationship you have with your family. They will also likely ask your parent/guardian about your childhood, which will help them to see if the issues you’re facing have been present for a long time.
This part will usually be done with your parent/guardian in the room. After this, they will leave if you’d prefer, and you’ll talk about the reasons for being admitted to CAMHS. Usually, the person from CAMHS you’re meeting will ask you why you think you’ve been admitted, and what you hope to get out of this experience.
You will be asked questions surrounding the issues that were described by the person who sent the CAMHS referral. These questions will vary depending on the issues and difficulties that you are facing. From this, the CAMHS staff will discuss some techniques that they think could help you cope better such as breathing exercises. Then, your parent/guardian will be asked to come back in, and you will discuss the best ways forward to help you in your recovery.
3. How long will this be?
This appointment is usually one hour long; however, it tends to go past very quickly.
4. What questions might they ask?
Some common questions that usually come up during this appointment are:
- How long have you been facing these problems?
- How has your mood been lately?
- What is life at school like for you?
- What would you like to achieve or change at CAMHS?
- How do you think we can help you best?
- How do you get on with your family?
- Is anyone concerned about your safety at the moment?
- Do you have anyone you are currently talking to about your mental health?
- How are you feeling at the moment?
Overall, this appointment is just so that CAMHS get a bit of a better understanding of who you are, and your situation. From this, CAMHS will decide whether or not they think their service will help you. Then, you will either be put onto a waiting list, or they will give you other options that they think would help you better.
It’s completely normal to be nervous, but just remember that everyone at CAMHS has your best interest in mind - you’re in good hands. This is a really positive step forward, and I’d advise that you do your best to work with your CAMHS team and try to tell them all the information you can. This way you will get so much more out of your time with CAMHS.
Good luck! :)
Author: Louisa, 17
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