I've spent the last few months talking about how Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) isn't good enough. I've yet to publicly speak in detail about my first experience of being an outpatient with CAMHS though, so I figured I'd do that today.
When I was first referred to CAMHS, I was classed as an urgent referral because I was considered to be in crisis. For that reason, I was seen relatively quickly. However, when you consider the fact that I was in crisis, and that it still took approximately two weeks for me to even get an assessment appointment...I don't see that as being acceptable.
When I was assessed, I was assigned a male counsellor. This wasn't an issue, I was offered the opportunity to request a female therapist, and I declined. The gender of my allocated specialist wasn't the problem.
From session one, this counsellor seemed more interested in mocking my body language than in finding out why, as a 14-year-old, I was suicidal and self-harming. Here's the thing. I generally sit with my arms folded. It's comfortable for me. But even if I was sitting with my arms folded because I was uncomfortable with the situation or my surroundings, is mocking me really the best way to make me feel at ease?
Needless to say, it wasn't long before I discharged myself. I must have attended three or four appointments before accepting that it wasn't going anywhere, and was quite simply a waste of my time and NHS funding.
For whatever reason, this seemed to be taken as an indication that I was okay, and things couldn't really be that bad, especially because it was a good year or more before I asked for a new referral. The truth is, nothing got better, but with an experience like that under my belt, I had no interest in returning to treatment. Is that particularly surprising?