Two woman laughing and having a drink together

Getting Better Together

Caring relationships are at the heart of every theme within CAMHeleon. Young people flourish when they feel truly connected and understood, and it’s within their emotional connections that they gain a deeper sense of themselves and develop healthy means for relating.

How well young people adjust to life on the ward is hugely dependent on how sensitive staff are to their thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Good attachment is the most basic need of a young person. Therapeutic work with young people and their families occurs within an interpersonal context. The quality of the therapeutic relationship has an enormous impact on the outcome of any intervention.

The more reflective the team is, the better the young person will be able to move forward in a positive direction. Through sensitive work, the ward team, always working at the young person’s pace, forms a relationship where young people can express themselves, begin to explore their experience, and gradually work through their difficulties.
The ‘therapeutic alliance’ is the staff members’ ability to form and to nurture therapeutic relationships in which helpful 'bonds' are created and nurtured with young people and their family. The healthiest relationships are those which are honest, flexible, committed, warm and safe. Caring relationships serve as a vehicle for inspiring hope and nurturing the development of life-long coping skills.

A CAMHS ward stay is a good opportunity for young people to rehearse new coping skills and gain feedback so they are better prepared when they’re needed. Young people learn about themselves by the way others relate to them, and mindfulness is at the core of caring relationships. Upon a secure relational base, they are more able to explore, to learn new healthier patterns of behaviour and to develop stronger relationships.
Mother and son playing scrabble together
One of the central underpinnings of ward life is community; one that lives, works, plays and communicates well together, one that feels safe and constructive for everyone – patients, visitors and staff alike. Most importantly, admissions and the treatments that are offered throughout this time need to be built on a secure and dependable foundation of empathic connectivity and understanding.

Staff can help the ward community feel safe enough to engage in and own their healing journey, and they do so by being a good example of respect and acceptance. Within this safe space that is created by caring relationships and a thoughtful environment, young people and their families can safely explore and grow.
“Children internalise ideals of masculinity, femininity, beauty and success dictated by an individualistic, consumerist capitalist and neoliberal society, primed to profit from their inevitable insecurity. At school, they are trained in competition instead of collaboration. They are told that being able to memorise and regurgitate a fairly arbitrary set of facts under exam conditions is akin to intelligence. They often watch their parents work long hours, or struggle to make ends meet…

I try to instil back into school culture the three skills crucial for mental health – critical thinking, development of healthy coping strategies and the ability to communicate about emotion (and to be on the receiving end of that communication). These are the lost skills whose absence has given birth to a disillusioned generation, struggling to hold it together. It all boils down to a lack of time.”

- Natasha Devon


A Random Idea:

Be as open about mental health issues as we can be because they affect us all.


Caring Relationships
Opportunity and Expression
Leisure and Therapeutic Activity
On and Off the Ward
Relational and Physical Safety
Family and Friends
Unique Recovery Journeys
Leisure and Growth