The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is one of the services provided to support families if and when they face difficult times with their children. Growing up is not always easy, and emotional ups and downs will be part of life for many young people and their families. Mostly, families manage to cope with problems themselves, and become stronger as a result of overcoming them.
Sometimes, however, it is helpful to seek professional support to deal with difficulties. Young people up to the age of 18, and their families, can be referred to local CAMHS for therapeutic help and support. CAMHS teams work together with parents to help children and young people with emotional, behavioural, or psychological difficulties. They help families manage the ordinary emotional difficulties that arise out of life events, such as bereavement, illness, and divorce. They also help with more serious and on-going difficulties, such as eating disorders and self-harm.
If you are not sure whether your child’s emotions and behaviour are worrying enough for him or her to need specialist help, you can still meet an ‘early intervention worker’ to talk about the problem, and get advice and guidance about what you can do.
It is important to seek help if:
- your child’s emotions and behaviour have suddenly changed
- his or her behaviour is difficult to manage
- there are difficulties with sleeping, eating, or tantrums
- your child seems anxious or unhappy
- your child is having difficulty managing a change, such as: divorce, moving to a new school, or moving home
- there has been a family bereavement
It is always better to seek help sooner rather than later. Problems are often easier to deal with if they are identified early so solutions can be found to them. Parents can contact ‘early intervention workers’ through primary schools and children’s centres in Kensington and Chelsea. Parents and professionals can also contact the Family Resource Project (020 7854 5880) or Violet Melchett Child and Family Consultation Centre (020 8237 2837) to request a meeting to discuss personal difficulties, and decide whether additional help is required.
If the difficulties facing you and your children are more complex, or if they have been around for some time, longer term help may be needed. Here are some examples of issues that may need longer and more intensive help:
- deliberate self-harm
- substance misuse
- conditions needing medication (such as ADHD)
- serious eating disorders
- psychiatric conditions (psychosis, severe depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder)
For any of these difficulties consult your GP in the first place. They may be able to offer some initial advice, and will then be able to make a referral to the relevant service. In North Kensington this is likely to be Parkside Clinic (020 8383 6123), and in Central and South Kensington and Chelsea this is likely to be the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (020 8746 8617). These services provide assessment and treatment. A range of treatments is on offer from these services, including: child, family, and art psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychiatric advice and treatment, including medication.