I've been to CAMHS three times now and each time hasn't been what I'd call successful but I was wondering what anyone elses experiences with it have been like? Especially in regards to getting a diagnosis as my experience with that was pretty bad.
For those who don't know, CAHMS stands for Child and Adolescents Mental Health Services and is the the public mental health service in the UK
Oh my gosh I was going to make this thread and you beat me to it! Damn
Anyway I've had some good and some bad experiences.
In terms of diagnosis, they don't like to give you one. Most of the UK mental health services are actually reluctant to give diagnoses unless they view them as entirely necessary, because they believe that it's more important to treat individual symptoms than a diagnosis - which I agree with, partly. Not 100%, but I can see their point.
CAMHS also has additional reasons for not wanting to diagnose, including the fact that disorders diagnosed in adolescence can then stick with them for their whole life, giving people a stigmatised label that they may have "outgrown" (whether naturally, because behaviors and personalities change, or through therapy), which can affect all sorts of treatments in the future.
There's a lot of reasons CAMHS doesn't like to diagnose and I won't go into all of them because it'd take forever, I don't necessarily agree with all the reasons either (or most of them).
But basically, TL;DR, CAMHS very seldom diagnose.
Anyway, onto my actual EXPERIENCE...
It's been super mixed. It was bad, terrible, good, now it's bad again.
I was referred by my GP for anxiety attacks I was having in school. Probably not a detailed referral, but hey - anxiety - CAMHS can do stuff about that!
But they declined the referral because that wasn't "their business" and it was up to the school to deal with, and told me I could only get into CAMHS for school reasons if I got referred by an educational psychologist.
They hadn't even met me at this point, I need to say. They'd just read a referral made by my GP during a five minute appointment.
Not only that, but I had to wait eight months just to be told that they didn't accept me, because instead of telling us - the family, they told the school.
Ok so fast forward a bit, it's my first appointment with the nurse. A conversation goes like this - it's January 2014 at the time, just keep that in mind. (vague suicide TW, nothing too explicit):
Nurse: Have you ever tried to kill yourself?
Me: Yes, in December. Please don't tell my mum she's really not good about this stuff.
Nurse: Don't worry I won't - this is confidential!
A week later, a letter comes through. It's addressed to my mother. It says, in detail, most of what I talked to her about. Including this gem: "Had experienced suicidal thoughts and made an attempt 18 months ago" 18? Where did I say that?
Anyway I could say more but this is super long, I definitely have some great CAMHS gems though.
Ughhh I hate those letters they send out! I don't really tell my dad stuff and then when he'd get the letters he'd read through it first without asking me or anything and it just really annoys me because I don't tell him things for a reason and now he's looking through personal documents without asking me!
(tw mention of suicide*)
*But the worst experience I had with them was when I was referred to them after being discharged from the hospital from an attempt and before I'd even met with the lady I was seeing she called my mother (who I don't live with and mentioned she was a reason as to why I ended up in the hospital)* and told her everything that had happened! It was awful and then my mother asked to access to all my files there which they had to give as she has parental responsibility over me still. It was absolutely mortifying and could of been easily stopped if the practitioner had just done her job and looked through my file which explicitly mentioned I wanted my mother to know nothing about me.
Personally, they've never actually helped me and I find going to them is absolutely pointless and they end up doing more damage than help.
Yup, they're prone to not respecting confidentiality or boundaries. They can definitely be helpful, but you have to spend ages trying to find the right person. I wish you luck though! You can find counsellors for free who are usually... less shitty. They can do less, though.