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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Partners in Care

 

 

A checklist for parents with children with mental health problems

Working in partnership with psychiatrists and members of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

This leaflet is aimed at parents or carers of a child with mental health problems and suggests questions they might ask at appointments to get information about their child’s condition.

 

Professionals may also find this checklist a helpful guide.

 

It suggests ways of improving communication and partnerships when a child has first been referred, identified or diagnosed with a problem.

 

Children can have a variety of different emotional and behavioural problems. Some of these will be short-lived while others will be disorders that will need treatment. Going to see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional about a child’s difficulties can be a very daunting experience for many parents.

 

The CAMHS team is there to work in partnership with parents and young people, to help sort out the difficulties that are brought to them. Professionals understand that parents can feel that nobody appreciates what it is like to have a child with problems and may worry that they will be blamed. They are also aware that it is not easy to ask for help. Sometimes taking a relative or friend along can be helpful in providing support or explaining the problem clearly.

For parents/carers

As a parent, you will be asked a lot of questions by the professional who sees you, in order to gather information (carry out an assessment) to help determine the nature of the problem (make a diagnosis), and decide what should happen next (treatment).

 

Some of the questions you may want to ask are listed below. However, the checklist is not exhaustive and you would have your own questions specific to your child or situation.  Please also refer to other sources of information below which you may find helpful.

About the problem

Not every child will have a formal diagnosis. Children may have had short-lived behavioural problems which do not have an underlying diagnosis and can be resolved with help and support.

 

 What sort of problem does my child have?
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   Is it mainly behavioural?

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   Is it mainly emotional?
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   Is it a mixture of both?

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   Is it a mental illness?

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   Is it a problem of learning and/or development?

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   Is it a problem with relationships?

Assessment

Getting more information to help sort out a problem is important. You should be told how this information will be gathered.

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   How will you (the professional) find out if there is an illness or diagnosis?

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   What information is needed?
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   What information do you need from me?

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  Will the school need to be contacted?

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   How long will it take to find out what is wrong?

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   What tests are needed?

If a diagnosis has been made

At this stage, parents will have many questions. Make sure that you are given time to obtain the information you need. 

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   Are any further tests/ specialist assessments needed?

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   How will my child be affected?
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   Will he/she grow out of their problems?

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  Where can I get more information about what is wrong with my child?

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   Are there any groups for parents whose children have this problem?

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    Is help available for brothers and sisters or other family members?

How might I be involved in my child’s care and treatment?

Parents are very important in helping to sort out their child’s difficulties, whatever they are.

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   How can I manage my child’s behaviour better?

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   What sort of help and support can I expect?
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   Will I be expected to join a parents’ group?

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  Are there other parents I can share my experiences with?

The role of the school

Children spend a great deal of time at school. It is important for CAMHS to have a good communication with schools, and to keep parents informed.

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   Does the school need to know about my child’s problem? 

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   What if we don’t want the school to know we have asked for help? 
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   How can school help my child?

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   Who do I need to talk to in school to get help?

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   Will we all need to meet together?

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   If the problem gets better, will my child do better at school?

 

How might social services help?

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What services are provided by social services for children with mental health difficulties?  

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   Can I receive any help or support in taking care of my child?
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   In what circumstances should I contact social services?

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   How can social services help if:

  • My child is aggressive or hurting others?
  • My child is getting into trouble with the law?
  • My child is abusing substances?

 

 Involvement of other professionals

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 Are there are professionals who may be able to help?  

 

 Getting help

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  If I need help, how can I contact you?
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  Who else can I contact?

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  Whom do I contact in an emergency?

Medication

Some children may need medication, along with other treatments, although many do not.

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  Will medication help?

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  What would medication do?
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  Is it safe for children?

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  How does it work?

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  Has this medication been used with other children?

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 What are the side-effects?

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 Does my child have to agree to take it?

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Would my child need any tests like blood tests before or while taking medication

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 How long will my child have to take medication for?

Hospital admission

Very few children will need to go into hospital. However, for a very small number an admission to hospital might be necessary.

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   Why does my child need to go to hospital?

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   How will they help?
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   How long would he/she have to stay?

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   What will it be like for my child?

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   What will be the age of the other children there?

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  Can I stay with my child?

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  How often can I visit?

 

Confidentiality

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  Will you share the information that I give you with other professionals? 
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  Can I speak to you in person without my partner or child?

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  If my child talks to a professional in team, will they tell me what he/she said?

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  If not, how will I be kept informed?

 

 If, I am not satisfied with my child's treatment and care who can I speak to:

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 To make comment?

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 To get a second opinion?

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 To make a complaint?

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 To get support?

 

Sources of information

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a factsheet on ‘Who’s who in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS?)’ which can be downloaded from www.rcpsych.ac.uk/info

Carers' Trust

Carers Trust is a new charity which was formed by the merger of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care in April 2012. Carers Trust works to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. With our Network Partners, we aim to ensure that information, advice and practical support are available to all carers across the UK.

Contact a Family is a UK charity for families with disabled children. We offer information on specific conditions and rare disorders. Free helpline: 0808 808 3555; email: helpline@cafamily.org.uk;

Young Minds Parents Helpline for any adult concerned about the emotions and behaviour of a child or young person. They offer information and professional advice, via telephone and email - contact 0808 802 5544 or parents@youngminds.org.uk.

 

The Royal College of Psychiatrists

Produces a series of 46 factsheets for parents, teachers and young people entitled ‘Mental Health and Growing Up’. These cover emotional, behavioural and mental health problems that can affect children. These can be downloaded free from www.rcpsych.ac.uk/info. They are also available from The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescot Street, London E1 8BB; tel: 020 3701 2552; email: leaflets@rcpsych.ac.uk.

 

With grateful thanks to Dr Margaret Bamforth and members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Child and Family Public Education Editorial Board. We are also grateful to Contact a Family and their members who commented on this checklist.

 

This leaflet was produced as part of the Partners in Care campaign, a joint initiative between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

 

One of the aims of the Partners in Care campaign was to show that if all those involved in the care of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities can work together, a trusting partnership can be developed between carers, patients and professionals which will be of benefit to all.


© January 2014. Review date: January 2016. Royal College of Psychiatrists. This leaflet may be downloaded, printed out, photocopied and distributed free of charge as long as the Royal College of Psychiatrists is properly credited and no profit is gained from its use. Permission to reproduce it in any other way must be obtained from permissions@rcpsych.ac.uk. The College does not allow reposting of its leaflets on other sites, but allows them to be linked to directly.

 

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For a catalogue of public education materials or copies of our leaflets contact: Leaflets Department, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescot Street, London E1 8BB. Telephone: 020 7235 2351 x 2552. 
 
 
 

Charity registration number (England and Wales) 228636 and in Scotland SC038369

 

Please note that we are unable to offer advice on individual cases. Please see our FAQ for advice on getting help.

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