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"Mistreatment in CAMHS"

About: Child and Adolescent Mental Services / CAMHS - North Team

(as the patient),

I have been attending CAMHS for over 5 years for self-harm, anxiety, depression and suspected ASD. They have never gave me any sort of support for my actual issues. I have been struggling with self-harm for years and they have always made it feel like my fault. Instead of offering me advice for my issues they would guilt trip me into stopping and accuse me of influencing my younger siblings into taking up my bad coping mechanisms. Instead of speaking about important issues, they would just speak about how school is going or something generic. I was telling one of them how horrible I felt and she condescendingly asked me if i was on my period. The only help offered was DBT which I couldn't attend due to work and college.

The only other option is medication which i didn't enjoy but I didn't have an option. If I asked for medication they would act rude towards me and told me to get 'actual help' instead of relying on medication out of laziness. They would start me on small doses, agree to increase them after a certain time, and never increase them. The psychiatrists and councillors I saw in CAMHS changed nearly every time I went and nobody seemed to have read my paperwork, so nearly half of every session would just be going over things that have already been on file for ages. At an appointment once, I told a senior member of staff that I was suicidal and told them my issues in detail. They told me I couldn't possibly be telling the truth because I was dressed nicely and had makeup on. I left the appointment to have a panic attack and self-harm in the bathroom.

CAMHS has made my mental health worse, if anything. They made me feel like I was just 'lazy' or 'dramatic' instead of offering any help. Being within their system made me feel hopeless about ever getting better in the future. All of the workers seem so distrustful of their patients and it doesn't feel like a safe or caring environment.

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Response from Bernie Walsh, Senior Clinical Psychologist, CAMHS, Donegal Mental Health Services 14 months ago
Bernie Walsh
Senior Clinical Psychologist, CAMHS,
Donegal Mental Health Services
Submitted on 13/04/2023 at 12:18
Published on Care Opinion at 14:01

Dear earthyj67,

It is very disappointing to hear that this has been your experience in CAMHS and the concerns you raise in relation to clinicians on the team and the service is very serious and worrying and we would like to address this with you.

You mentioned in your post that you found clinicians rude, condescending and blaming. This goes against the ethos of CAMHS as all clinicians are obliged to abide by their professional code of practice and ethical guidelines to provide a supportive, caring and safe environment for all young people and their families who attend the service irrespective of their difficulties. CAMHS strive to provide a service that is client- centred, non-judgemental, rcovery focussed and above all respectful. It sounds that this has not been your experience.

I would be more than happy to meet with you in person or to speak to you over the phone if you would like to contact me.

Bernie Walsh

Senior Clinical Psychologist

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