What to expect at your first Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) appointment

It's common to feel nervous about attending your first CAMHS appointment, but don't worry, feeling nervous about meeting new people and not knowing what to expect is completely normal.

When you attend your first appointment at CAMHS, the clinicians at CAMHS will start with some introductions and let you know what is going to happen during your time together. They may ask you to complete some forms either before or during the appointment. It seems like a lot of work but it is really important to them that they understand what is happening in your life. They will also talk to you about important information such as confidentiality and consent to share your information with other professionals involved in your care, such as your GP. You should have also received a ‘Welcome to CAMHS’ booklet.

Where will the appointment be?

Your appointment could be over the phone, via a video platform or face-to-face at one of our bases. You will be told which one in your invitation.

How long will the appointment take?

This appointment will be with one or two clinicians and the appointment lasts between one to one and a half hours. The appointment is this length of time because CAMHS need to collect lots of information to be able to make a good assessment so they can make sure you are being offered the best and most appropriate care.

Can family come to this appointment?

Depending on your age, some of the assessment may be done with you and your parent / carer together and part of it with you on your own.

If you would feel more comfortable having a parent or carer in the room with you during your assessment, that’s fine. You can also see the team by yourself if you would prefer, however staff may expect your parent or carer to be present for part of the meeting. This is so clinicians at CAMHS understand everyone’s point of view to better work with you in planning any further care.

What questions will be asked?

Here are some common questions the CAMHS team may ask in an assessment:

  • What has brought you to CAMHS?
  • How long have you experienced the problem that has brought you to CAMHS?
  • What would you like to change in your life?
  • What might help tackle the problems you are experiencing?
  • How have you been feeling recently?

They will talk about what your goals are and what you would like to be different in your life. Together, you can determine the most effective treatment to help you achieve these objectives. If you or your parent/carer is not confident speaking English, CAMHS can provide an interpreter to help. Just let them know if this is the case.

What happens after this appointment?

After the first appointment, the clinicians will talk to you about what happens next, there may be one of several outcomes:

  • No further assessment or treatment by CAMHS is required and you will be discharged from the service. You may be given details of other services who can help you
  • Further assessment by CAMHS is required and more appointments will be made. There may be a wait for further assessment and we will advise you of how you will be supported during this time and other resources that may be of help while you wait
  • It is agreed that CAMHS is the best service to offer treatment and a plan will be made with you. This will include what CAMHS can offer and will also include what you can do and what other people can do to support you. You may be informed what your future appointments with CAMHS will be like, if not, you can ask
  • Treatment may be offered immediately or you may be placed on a treatment waiting list dependent on the issues

How long will I be under the care of CAMHS for?

It is hard to say how long you will be under the care of CAMHS as every person is different and requires different care. Until clinicians at CAMHS have met you and understood your needs, they can’t really predict what support will be right for you and how long you might need it for. Whatever the outcome, the clinicians will discuss this with you and your family to ensure that your views have been considered. The clinician will write to the person who asked you to come and see us and you will get a copy of the assessment letter. They normally also include your GP and school nurse.

If you have any worries about coming to your appointment, please contact the team on the number on your appointment letter. CAMHS want to help you and your first appointment can be the start of your recovery.