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CAMHS refusing to help severely depressed ds15

(50 Posts)
elstan Sat 28-Nov-15 13:15:45

Hi, hope this doesn't turn into a rant as I am absolutely livid. After waiting around 9 months, ds who is 15 finally had a camhs assessment today. We described his issues, including severe self harm, no friends due to isolating himself, suicide attempt last month and just in general he cannot function normally due to his mental health. Most recently, 2 new issues arose: we noticed he has been taking alcohol from our shelves and that he has been losing a lot of weight, which he swears is unintentional but I found a notebook in his room with a list of foods he eats everyday and their calories beside it. Also written down was a 'diet plan' where he aims to eat less than 600 calories per day. I am absolutely terrified for him and I've only outlined above his 'main' issues, if I were to describe them all I'm sure it would take up several paragraphs.
So we went CAMHS and described everything. They told us 'some people are naturally reclusive and introverted. Your son is one of them,' to which we replied by explaining his self harm and suicide attempt and they just told us 'here we do not have a child with a mental illness. Just a very introverted, shy boy with little confidence. But that will be better once he reaches sixth form!'
They won't help with his eating issues as he has a BMI of 18.5 and it needs to be under 18.5 to even be considered for eating disorder help. Didn't even get offered any sort of counseling. We can't afford private and we don't know what to do anymore, we really thought CAMHS would help us.
Anyone have any experience/recommendations for us?

pepper30 Sat 28-Nov-15 21:12:35

Oh I am so sorry else an you must be feeling absolutely desperate. CAMHS services have built up a very medicalised model of care in many areas where they only accept individuals with clear cut mental health issues (according to their tick boxes) which is totally ridiculous. Clearly your son is in need of help.

I was wondering about maybe teying Barbados or action for children? They are fantastic and offer a really good package of help for young people - sometimes more than a clinic based CAMHS service can.

VenusRising Sat 28-Nov-15 21:28:32

Why don't you try him on St. John's wort, it's an over the counter mild anti depressant, and invite a few friends over.

Maybe he could help you with making dinner?
Would he be interested in volunteering somewhere like an animal shelter? Going for a walk in the sunshine is also a good thing to do every day.

I don't mean to sound facetious, but this does sound like a phase I went through. You have been given some very reasonable advice, and if you want a second opinion, go private.

It's entirely normal to be depressed as a mid teen and to try alcohol, restrict calories and self harming. I'm my experience things did get better in sixth form, as I began to realise that the world was bigger than the suburbs, and my life was my own.

Maybe book a weekend in Istanbul or somewhere interesting.
Has he plans for uni? Maybe ask the school to go over his job choices?

Sorry if my advice is way off the mark, but I did everything your DS is doing, and you have been given advice that sounds reasonable to me. He's been diagnosed as introverted, high achieving and a loner. That's who he is. It's not a mental illness.
He sounds lovely btw. Maybe get him interested in working with animals for a while? Does he have a pet he can cuddle?

MajesticWhine Sat 28-Nov-15 21:38:58

It's not good enough and I'm angry for you. There will probably be low cost counselling services in your area if you look into it. Go back to the GP and say you need more help. There might be another way into other services bypassing CAMHS? Also, some counsellors in private practice will accept a lower fee. And Childline are really good and can talk to your DS over the phone or chat online, provided your DS wants to talk about things. It would at least give him an outlet. Can his school offer any help at all?

dippyeggy Sat 28-Nov-15 21:44:23

We are hoping to access counselling for my son via a local charity. This is being arranged via a CAF through the school. A family support worker suggested it and said she should be able to get him seen within a few weeks.

It might be worth speaking to the pastoral team at your son's school to see if there is something similar in your area.

From what I have heard of camhs they turn as many people away as possible. I don't know how bad things have to be to get their help.

Devilishpyjamas Sat 28-Nov-15 21:51:58

Try charities for low cost counselling.

You could also try emailing the head of CAMHS. I did that (set everything out & copied to MP, councillors & head of children's services) & we were seen with ten days rather than 18 weeks hmm (it was an emergency - the situation we were in was very dangerous). The sent my email at 9pm, the head of CAMHS emailed back at 10.30pm, by lunchtime the next day he had intervened & the appt was arranged.

I'm afraid you just have to shout really loud these days to get anything. I don't think it sounds normal teenage stuff at all (contrary to a pp) & I would contact the head of service.

earlgreycat Sat 28-Nov-15 21:53:04

What a load of shit! I'm sorry you haven't been taken seriously. Maybe give these people a call?

A suicide attempt is very serious and I'm sorry it hasn't been treated as such.

Hatethis22 Sat 28-Nov-15 21:55:08

Severe self harm and a suicide attempt? I would go private if I could.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 28-Nov-15 21:56:17

We got turned away initially with my 8yo but a few months later they are now helping him. What happened was that an ed psychologist and private clinical psychologist had both refused to see him because they said he should be under CAMHS, so school rang up CAMHS again and they gave him an emergency appointment. Keep calling them again and making a fuss. Good luck xxx

TabithaTwitchEye Sat 28-Nov-15 21:56:25

Goodness, how odd. I work between teir 2 and teir 3 CAMHS, and we would certainly be quite worried. I'm not sure quite what's happened here. Can you speak to your GP again?

Mrsj70 Sat 28-Nov-15 21:59:26

venus st johns wort can't be taken by U18's. OP you have my every sympathy, my DS is going through the same issues. Now he's 16 he comes under adult services, wa s referred to the crisis team - took 10 days to hear back. He finds it really difficult to talk about anything so been told they can't help him as they only offer talking therapy. I don't know where to turn either.

anotherbusymum14 Sat 28-Nov-15 22:15:54

Yes id take him back to GP and mention the 600 calorie diet. This is not okay and your GP should talk to him about it and at least get him back to 1000 calories. I'd look into getting him anti depressants (via GP) and ask to get CBT help as a starting point at least. When he stops self harming and the depression eases he may get to a point where he could respond to talking therapy.

Ripeningapples Sat 28-Nov-15 22:25:05

You're not sure what's happened tabitha. What's happened is that CAMHS exists for the convenience of its staff not its patients. The people who work for CAMHS know the problems but dealing with them means: Thinking, working and being proactive whereas they are better at whining, turning in late and making excuses.

They were hopeless vis a vis my DD who was cutting and taking small overdoses. Incompetent and uncaring in spades. I made an appointment to see my MP and phoned the person responsible for commissioning and told them I was meeting the MP. DD was offered individual counselling within the week and on the morning I told them I was,meeting the,MP.

It is very very wrong. We have money and dd is now being treated by a leading consultant psych. I refused the counselling on moral grounds but golly I'm stirring up a shit storm where I live. Yes, we have money, yes my dh was at uni with our MP, yes two of dd's godparents are MPs but yes it is a fucking disgrace and something has to be done. If we struggled it has to be a thousand times worse for others without money, contacts or the balls to create a stink.

Some questions :

When did the NHS start differentiating in spite of the Equality Act.

Why isn't every young person assessed by a doctor. A nurse or social worker doesn't cut it.

How can these people suggest lay people get help off the internet if they want private care BECAUSE THE NHS will NOT offer adequate care?

Why is there not routine screening to identify any underlying physical issues at the outset?

We have money to throw at this - it is still an absolute disgrace.

Petitions about tampon tax??? Let's get real, this us about our young people and the failure if the NHS to provide adequate MH services to ensure their life chances are not diluted. The people in charge need rockets inserted and Mnetters should stand in line to light the blue touch paper. I'd like to see the innards of every NHS trust CEO on six figures who presides over this shambles splattered against the moon. Metaphorically of course but by golly they have some answering to do.

elstan Sat 28-Nov-15 22:42:27

Hi, thank you to everyone who's replied. I have to say that the camhs in my area is quite well known for being hit especially hard by budget cuts.
@venus we were at the stage of trying to interest him in new things about a year ago. Suggested that he tries to engage himself in new hobbies, new friends etc but there's no motivation.
@ripeningapples to be honest, your post says everything I wanted to say but never had the courage to!
Everything's a complete nightmare. Camhs worker asked him if he thinks about suicide or makes any plans, to which he replied yes for both. We mentioned the suicide attempt as well. Less than 5 minutes later, we just received some bullsh*t speech about 'being a teenager is about finding yourself!' and 'everyone has some rough times when they are young!' and then 'goodbye, your son is just introverted, shy and confused. Doesn't need any help then'. Half the appointment was talking about what he was like as a baby which I really didn't understand.
We're going back to the gp on Monday and I think I'll ask about antidepressants because we/him can't go on like this anymore. Will mention the diet as well.
Sympathies go out to anyone struggling like we are.

Ripeningapples Sat 28-Nov-15 22:48:19

Something that might help is to write a letter to the CEO/Head of Children's Services along the lines of "whilst we respect the view of x that what our son is going through is part of being a teenager" we also feel that our son has threatened suicide and would like to note that we believe a more robust clinical intervention is required at this stage. Naturally, if you don't agree, I shall be very grateful if you will set out the reasons why and confirm that you are prepared to accept full responsibility for the consequences of might happen as your Trust appears not to take our son's situation with the seriousness we feel it deserves. We look forward to hearing from you and would be happy to meet with you personally to discuss this matter further.

Good luck - it's bloody awful and you have my every sympathy.

smileyforest Sat 28-Nov-15 23:56:21

Absolutely disgusting!! It's makes me so bloody angry, this is not 'normal' teenage behaviour, my son is also going through a really bad time and Ive had to fight to get care and referral to CAHMS. I will also take it further, more needs to be done for the Mental Health Care.... Really feel for you OP x

elstan Mon 30-Nov-15 18:34:20

We visited the gp today and asked whether there was any possibility for antidepressants or counseling and they said they can only do what camhs has told them to do. We told him that camhs have rejected him and asked what our other options are. Apparently there are no other options if that's what camhs say. So basically, 'just hang in there' and go back if it gets bad.
I feel helpless as a parent watching him sink deeper all the time and I could tell he was glad they won't offer him help because he thinks he's 'fine' and very happy to continue losing weight, refusing school and self harming. Quite frankly, he's in the middle of mock exams and I couldn't care less about how he does, I just want my son back! I'm scared to leave him alone and constantly have to search his room for sharp things, I feel so alone.
Will write to camhs again because I cannot deal with this alone, it's affecting everyone in the house now

Devilishpyjamas Mon 30-Nov-15 18:40:02

Email the head of service. It does work (did in my case anyway). Make sure you cc your MP & councillor.

Noneedforasitter Mon 30-Nov-15 20:04:07

What a nightmare for you and your son. Our experience of a seriously depressed adolescent with strong thoughts of suicide (in our case a daughter of 16) is that there is no way to keep them safe at home. Even two parents cannot provide the 1-1 observation required. Pills can be accessed by force, even if you lock the cabinet, there are always accessible knives in the kitchen and it is impossible to keep them in the house at night without physically sleeping across the bedroom door. Your only option is to keep forcing the issue with CAMHS, and ratcheting up the pressure until they accept responsibility for treating him. Good luck.

SealSong Mon 30-Nov-15 20:59:17

I say this as a CAMHS practitioner - ring and demand to speak to the team manager, say you are not happy with the quality of the assessment and wish to have him reassessed by a different practitioner, threaten to put formal complaint in. If that does not produce results, go ahead and put in a formal complaint. Families who put in a formal complaint often end up getting a service. It shouldn't be like that but it is. If you need to find out how to put in a complaint, the receptionist at CAMHS should be able to tell you, if not take a look on the health trust website.

I don't understand the conclusions that the person who assessed your son came to. Certainly in my CAMHS service we would be responding with urgency to the difficulties you describe.

To those saying email, it;s unlikely that you would be given an email address..NHS email is for work purposes only. Phoning is the best bet.

Also check out if you have a parents or patients advocacy service in your area that might be able to help.

Sorry you are having these difficulties.

Ripeningapples Mon 30-Nov-15 22:02:34

Oh, I did all that Sealsong. It took a call to the commissioner and the MP to be offered individual counselling. IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Are you proud of the practices that prevail in the service you work for? I wouldn't be.

I have just had to delete an essay because I am so angry at the extent to which out children are being let down by this excuse for a service.

WHY should parents have to be making formal complaints. I did what you suggested it was not helpful. I had to take it all the way to the MP and the Commissioner.

I would counsel against a phone call they can deny and twist what is said. Commit the concerns to writing and send by registered mail so they can't claim they weren't received. Also make them time limited, "I expect a reply in 7 day" and copy to the MP.

Just had to delete another three paragraphs - oh your service is so helpful isn't it, if one only makes a phone call. Ha bloody ha!

imjustahead Mon 30-Nov-15 22:04:33

hi get back in touch with them and ask to speak to the manager.

I had the same experience with them wanting to discharge my dd after the first meeting.

I made a complaint, i kept on at them. xx

imjustahead Mon 30-Nov-15 22:11:13

oh and wrote to my mp. it was such fun dealing with an ill dd and all the red tape, and my dd getting worse and saying 'i'm not even worth help'

op i don't know you, but know from me i know how you feel xxx

UsernameIncorrect Mon 30-Nov-15 22:13:57

I'm not in the UK but we too are waiting for a CAMHS appointment here. Our GP said if they mention suicide or self-harm bring them to A&E ( it might take a couple of you get them there) and that you would get to see a psychiatrist that way. The thought of having that option is the only way I can sleep.

I'm sorry you're going through this.

SealSong Mon 30-Nov-15 22:27:17

Why are you attacking me, Ripeningapples? I came on here to try to help the OP. Surely it's obvious from my post that I'm not happy with how things are. I'm sorry for your experiences but I am not to blame.

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