Child And Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Nursing

Nathan Crimes (Childrens Head Of Nursing – Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board)

What is CAMHS?

CAMHS (CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) are specialist services for children and young people. The services offer a range of treatments to support young people who are experiencing problems with their emotions, behaviour or mental health.

How I came to work in CAMHS as a Mental Health Nurse

My own journey in to CAMHS nursing started shortly after qualifying as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. I had previously worked for 13 years as a Clinical Support Worker in a variety of mental health services for adults. This provided me with a broad range of experience and knowledge working with adults though no experience of working with young people.

It was during my student nurse journey that I was exposed to a number of new environments and ways of nursing, this is where CAMHS changed from being something that I feared and felt very reluctant to engage in, to becoming a real passion. Observing how young people were at the centre of all decision making, quality collaborative working with children, young people and their families, compassion focused care from the top down and observing on a daily basis staff displaying genuine care and empathy really shaped my thinking and led me to a career working with children, young people and their families.

What is the purpose of a CAMHS nursing role?

The role of the nurse is to develop a meaningful therapeutic relationship based on trust, acceptance and understanding, CAMHS nurses provide specialist care while empowering the young person to identify effective means of managing their own thoughts and feelings. CAMHS nurses work closely with families and carers providing psychoeducation, ensuring that they are equipped with the correct tools to appropriately support and manage young people when they are experiencing difficulties.

What kind of settings do Mental Health Nurses in CAMHS work in?

CAMHS teams are accessible to young people both in the community and in a hospital based setting. Community CAMHS teams provide a range of therapeutic interventions to young people as do the inpatient settings.

What does a typical day for an Mental Health Nurse working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health look like?

No two days are the same in CAMHS though inpatient settings do offer a little more routine.

A typical day would include 1-1 therapeutic sessions, meetings with members of the Multi-Disciplinary Team such as psychologists, psychiatry, occupational therapists and art therapists to name but a few.

A typical day in community CAMHS would include multi-disciplinary team reviews, family work, review of medication, assessment of a young person’s mental health and treatment using evidence based, recovery focused therapies.