Sunday 13 January 2013

Why the H shouldn't an 18 year old stay with CAMHS if they want to?

I've been scouting around the Internet looking for various statistics, including average waiting times in the UK for CAMHS treatment, and ended up on the B-EAT website, reading through a forum. The particular thread I found was started by an 18 year old who was terrified at the prospect of being discharged from CAMHS (who she had been with for 3 years). The only reason she was being discharged was because she had reached 18.

Suddenly she was faced with being torn away from the treatment team she knew and trusted, and who knew her, her background and her illness back to front - to be thrown out into the big scary world of Adult Services. She was terrified. And, from what I read, her CAMHS team didn't seem to know much about what Adult Services would offer her either.

So I scrolled down the thread and found replies from other 18 year olds in the same position: each scared witless at the prospect of being torn from the team they were working with successfully and thrown out the door, purely and simply because of their age.

Now, I suspect this is just a snapshot of what other 18 year olds with eating disorders are experiencing here in the UK. I don't doubt there are some success stories... 18+ young people that thrive in Adult Services or who never quite hit it off with their CAMHS team. Or who, by the age of 18, are recovered. Or, in our case, considered to be sufficiently recovered.

"Tut, tut," everyone says (yes, I've heard it said). "Adult Services... now that's a completely different kettle of fish from CAMHS." Followed by shaking of the head. Whenever "Adult Services" has cropped up in any conversation I've been part of it's conjured up this picture of something quite frightening and very different from CAMHS. And which may not work. Or which has a heck of a long waiting list.

And, of course, where parents are probably excluded from their child's treatment.

Plus, the over 18 child can legally refused to have any treatment at all.

But these young women on the B-EAT thread all wanted treatment. However, importantly, they wanted to stay with their current treatment teams.

It seems absolutely crazy that, if the treatment is working, that additional NHS cash should be spent on moving children up to Adult Services with the associated learning curve - of both patient and clinician. How many sessions do they have to go through before they get back to where they were in the CAMHS treatment?

Worse, how many of our children are slipping through the net at this stage and ending up with an eating disorder that lasts for several years longer than it needs to.

Or kills them.

18 is just a number. And if the child is responding well to CAMHS treatment when they reach 18, then I strongly believe that treatment should continue for as long as it needs to.

Why the heck shouldn't it?


  1. And how can we change this travesty? It is a top issue on my list with the Govt whenever The Rt. Hon. Norman Lamb finally has time to meet with me. It is a protocol which needlessly places our young people at further risk and prolongs the illness if not fully recovered, as you so aptly point out in this wonderful post/blog.

  2. And these children are SCARED! Gaby, I'll join you in your fight.