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"CAMHS absolutely saved my life"

About: Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services / Sligo Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Services

(as the patient),

I started my journey with CAMHS in 2019. I had been severely struggling with anxiety and feeling out of place. My anxiety was showing physical symptoms and was severely impacting my life negatively. Although the waiting list was long I eventually was set up with CAMHS. I started off with therapy sessions and chose to go down the route of medication. I was completely supported in every decision I made and although I was taking medication it was followed with therapy sessions every two weeks. This greatly helped but I still felt like something was missing.

I started doing a lot of research into ADHD as I found a lot of symptoms matched up. I brought this to my psychologists in CAMHS  and was given the Connors forms. This was the one downfall of my experience here. Although the forms showed that I qualified for an ADHD diagnosis in the forms myself and my parents filled out it was disputed in the teachers form. I found this unfair because none of my teachers knew me well as I had only had them for a year but I was brushed off. I eventually let it go feeling very disheartened and lost.

I continued with sessions but found mindfulness not very useful as I was too easily distracted. I was then informed that my psychologist was leaving CAMHS. This was very disruptive as I was approaching my leaving cert which was one of the most stressful times of my life. Through this I felt increasingly lost.

After a bit of a wait I was then seen by Joanne who in a lot of ways saved my life. From the first session I felt heard and seen. She listened to everything I had to say and I really felt that she wanted to help me. We worked together over the span of a few months. We spoke about coping mechanisms and things that work in my life and things I don’t. She helped me through leaving my job and most importantly she helped me massively along the road to getting a diagnosis of ADHD. She performed a cognitive ability test and the results showed that I display a higher verbal ability than anything else which is a perfect example of someone with ADHD.

This really helped me to understand myself better and made me better able to cope with life. I now have supports in place in college and am in the process of being referred to an adult ADHD facility. My journey with CAMHS has had its ups and downs but absolutely saved my life. I’d like to thank Joanne and the team that worked with me through my time in CAMHS.

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Response from Joanne O'Halloran, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Service, HSE 16 months ago
Joanne O'Halloran
Senior Clinical Psychologist, Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Service,

I meet with service users and sometimes with their families. I assess psychological problems and provide psychological interventions in an effort to help service users overcome their difficulties.

Submitted on 27/01/2023 at 09:42
Published on Care Opinion at 09:42

picture of Joanne O'Halloran

Dear Chloe,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience attending the CAMHS Service in Sligo. It is good to read your experiences of attending CAMHS, about what was helpful and what was not so helpful for you. You mention the waiting lists for CAMHS and this is certainly a challenge that the service are continually trying to improve on. It is great to hear that you felt supporting throughout your time with the service.

The core features of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a neurological disorder include difficulties in areas of attention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity. No two people with ADHD present in the same way and the assessment and diagnosis of ADHD (and other neurological disorders) can take time to be become apparent and fully understood. For example, there is ample research to show how for young girls with ADHD can camouflage their struggles with compensatory strategies, which may lead to an underestimation of their underlying problems.

You mention that you have been referred to the Adult ADHD service which is great. The Adult ADHD Service in Sligo is part of the HSE's National Clinical Care Programme for Adults with ADHD. The Programme is delivered as part of the HSE’s mental health service provision and across government departments to ensure a holistic, integrated, person-centred response to adults with ADHD. It includes both assessment and treatment of the disorder.

Chloe, Thank you again for sharing your experiences of CAMHS.

Wishing you all the best in your college journey.

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