“The idea of inpatient care requires a huge leap of faith for the child, family and referring professional alike. We do not underestimate this process but truly believe that, for the small number of deeply troubled children and families whose lives have become strained beyond endurance, an inpatient admission may offer a real hope of respite, understanding and the possibility of change.”
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Setting the Scene
According to The Good Childhood Report 2016, 14% of girls and 11% of boys between the ages of 10 to 15 are unhappy with their lives leading to emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. These problems are associated with happiness with appearance and life as a whole. This research was carried out by Children’s Society who along with the findings have provided recommendations for change including: making sure there’s access to support in educational settings, a firm commitment from the Government to understanding and acting on children’s well-being, and making sure that they have a voice in decision-making.
On average, the peak age of onset for mental health problems occurs in late childhood / early adulthood, and it’s at this time when getting the right help is most crucial. Early intervention and prevention are the main ways that lasting change can be achieved. An increasing number of young people are seeking help for devastating mental health problems leading to huge challenges for already stretched services. Those who get the help they need and deserve, often eventually experience greater wellbeing, and as a result, they learn better and are more likely to fulﬁl their potential. Thankfully, there are dedicated and specialised child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and the heroic staff that work in them. As with other staff groups, most CAMHS wards’ staff are impressively creative and compassionate.
The impact of being in hospital on teenagers and their needs throughout a period of ill mental health are unique to this age group. Previously it was thought that adolescents were just as adept at coping with challenging or unsettling situations as adults. Now it’s recognised that teenagers are distinct from adults because they’re still maturing and developing. Similarly, adolescents are different to children because they’re undergoing a distinct developmental phase to their former selves and their younger peers. These differences really need to form the foundation of any package of care they’re offered within health services.
There are imaginative efforts by wards throughout the country that are expertly putting the CAMHeleon approach into practice - this site is both an inspiring "gallery" and a colourful celebration of this work.