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My mental health

Here are some questions that lots of young people ask us often about mental health, what this means and what to expect!

Q: If I have to go to Children looked after mental health service (CLAMHS), does that mean I am mad, mental or weird?

A.  No!  Firstly, most of the young people we see at CLAMHS don’t have a mental illness of any kind!  Instead, they are usually normal kids who have been through some pretty horrible stuff and just need some help in making sense of it all and learning how to cope with their feelings and behaviour.

Q: Will CLAMHS make me take medication? Or lock me in hospital?

A.  Probably not!  Both of these are very unlikely. Some young people need medication – but if this is the case your Social Worker and CLAMHS will talk to you about this first!
Some people need to go to hospital if they are very sick or if there is a chance they might hurt themselves.  This does not happen very often.  Just to show you how rare it is, in the 4 years since the current CLAMHS team was set up, they have not had to send any young people at all to hospital!

Q: If I tell someone in CLAMHS something, will they keep it a secret?

A.  Everything a young person tells a CLAMHS worker is confidential (i.e. private between them) unless the worker thinks there is a risk of harm to the young person, or another person.  In this case, the worker would need to speak to someone else about it (usually the young person’s social worker), but would discuss this with the young person first.

Also, it is normal for the worker to talk to other members of the CLAMHS team about their sessions with the young person so that they can decide together how best to help the young person.

If an assessment is being done, the CLAMHS worker will write a report about what he/she thinks is going on for the young person right now. This report will be sent to the young person’s Social worker, GP and maybe also to their carer or parents or school (but only with the permission of the person who has parental responsibility for the young person, or the young person themselves if they are over 14 years old).  However, this report would always be discussed with the young person first and they would have a chance to say if they disagree with anything in the report.  Nothing else would be shared with anyone else without the young person’s permission.

Q: If my mum or dad has a mental illness will I get it too?

A.  This is very unlikely.  You can’t catch a mental illness.  Sometimes people whose parent’s have mental health problems may be slightly more fragile to getting these problems themselves later on.  However, it is still much more likely that they won’t get these problems.

Q: If I go to CLAMHS once, is it possible for me to change my mind?

A.  Yes - CLAMHS do not force young people to come to see them, so they are free to come once and then change their mind. However, we hope that they will like it and want to come again!

Q: If I go to CLAMHS, how often and how long do I have to go?

A.  This depends what problem a young person is experiencing, what help is being offered and what the young person and their carer wants.  Usually, we will see young people for one hour every week or every two weeks.  This can go on for anytime between 2 months and 2 years, whatever is best for the young person.

Q: What happens in therapy/counselling?

A.  This depends upon how old the young person is, the type of problem they are experiencing and how the worker they are seeing has been trained. In CLAMHS, the workers often use toys, games and drawing when working with younger children.  With older teenagers, they may use more talking and discussion.  Sometimes, these sessions may have a particular focus (e.g. thinking together about anger) whereas in other sessions, the worker may ask the young person to play with or talk about whatever they want to.

In all cases, the worker will discuss this at the beginning of the meeting with the young person and/or their carer so they know what to expect!

Q: How is talking about things in therapy going to help me? Isn’t it better just to forget the past and move on?

A.  It would be great if people could easily put the difficult things in their past behind them and move on happily with their lives without having to think about it again. However, unfortunately, this is not always possible. We know from our work with young people, our reading and training, that problems from the past have a funny habit of coming back and bothering people even when they don’t want them to. Talking about these problems with someone they trust, in a safe place and trying to make sense of where they come from and how to cope with them can help young people to move forward with their lives.