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Questions you should ask

Bring this page with you when you talk to your healthcare provider about treatment, or use it as a starting point for your own list of questions.

Questions to ask (and answer) at assessment

Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is how the NHS provides treatment for young people. If your GP refers you to CAMHS for assessment, it's important to say exactly what's been happening so you get the right help.

Things to tell them:

  • When the problems started
  • What you’d like to change
  • If there's a pattern in the problems (keeping a diary or log book before your assessment will help here)
  • Any difficulties in school or with friends
  • Any general health problems, either now or in the past
  • Any big family events or issues like divorce or bereavement
  • Any recent trauma e.g. emotional, sexual or physical abuse
  • Other services you've had help from, like social care, hospital or private treatments

Questions to ask:

  • How long will I have to wait for treatment?
  • What help can I get straight away?
  • Can you recommend any local charities which help young people?
  • Who do I call if it's an emergency? Is there a 24-hour phone number?
  • If I get a talking therapy through how many sessions will I get?
  • Is my GP still involved in my care?
  • What can I do to help myself?

Questions about your treatment

Once treatment starts, you can still ask questions to make sure you are comfortable with what's going on.

  • Do I have to take medication?
  • If I do take medication will I get a talking therapy at the same time?
  • Is this the only treatment available for me?
  • Is it a common treatment for people my age?
  • Where can I find out more about my treatment?
  • What if the treatment doesn’t work?
  • What changes do you expect to see if the treatment works?
  • Will it make me feel upset to start with?
  • If I do start to feel upset what should I do?
  • How will the treatment make me feel?

If it's medication:

  • What are the side effects of the medication?
  • How long will it take to make me feel better?
  • Will I have to take it forever? 
  • Can I stop this treatment at any point?
  • What do I do if I start feeling worse?
  • Will the treatment cure me?
  • Do I have to tell my teachers, friends, family?
  • Can I join any local groups for children and young people having the same treatment?
  • Are there things I can do to help myself?
  • Are there things that I can't do because of my treatment?
  • Will I receive regular checkups?

Transition to adult services

In the NHS, young people eventually move from CAMHS to a different adult service. It usually happens at around 16-18 years old, but this depends on where you live. It's a big change, and you may have lots of questions.

  • When will I transition to adult services?
  • Will I get told in advance?
  • What is an assessment of needs/discharge plan?
  • Can my family be at my assessment meetings?
  • What happens if I can't get help from the NHS as an adult?
  • Who is my lead professional and who is my care coordinator?
  • Who will be involved in the assessment?
  • Can my family still be involved in my care?

Parents: questions about your role

Parents and carers can also ask CAMHS staff questions at any point in the child's assessment or treatment. You may want to know...

  • What can parents and family members do to help?
  • How can I keep my child safe at home?
  • Are there strategies I can use when they are distressed?
  • Is there a diagnosis?
  • What kind of help is available from the NHS?
  • What if my child needs a lot of help?
  • Can I get financial support as a carer?
  • Who is my child's key worker or care co-ordinator?
  • How does the treatment work?
  • Will there be treatment sessions involving the family? Could we have family therapy?
  • Can you recommend any groups or charities for parents?
  • Can I still be involved if my child transitions to adult services?
  • What are the rules about confidentiality?
  • What if my teenager can't get help from adult mental health services?
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