If you are coming to CAMHS for the first time, you may feel a little anxious or worried about who you will see and how it will all work. The information below will tell you more about what to expect when you come to see us.
While you're waiting for your CAMHS appointment, you might find it useful to have a look around the information elsewhere on this website under What Can We Help With? and How Do We Help? You can also find details of other organisations you can talk to while you're waiting to see CAMHS under What's in Dorset for Me?
If you would like to talk to someone at CAMHS but haven't been referred to us, it would be helpful to talk to your parents or carers first. You could also talk to another adult you trust such as a teacher at school, your school nurse, your GP or social worker and ask for a referral to CAMHS. Our advice on Getting the Support You Need will help you think about who you could talk to and how to start the conversation.
Once you've attended your CAMHS appointment, it's also really important to us that we hear your views – find out more about how you can do that in our page about participation.
Hear more about what CAMHS is like, and how we can help, from Megan:
More about your CAMHS appointment
If you feel you would like help from CAMHS or are worried about mental health issues, it would be helpful to talk to your parents or carers first. If you are worried about speaking to your parents or carers, speak to an adult you trust – you could also talk to a teacher at school, your school nurse, your GP or social worker and ask for a referral to CAMHS.
Take a look at our advice on Getting the Support You Need for more about who you can talk to, as well as advice on starting conversations about your mental health.
Your first CAMHS appointment will typically be within four-eight weeks of us receiving the initial referral. However, we do our best to see you as soon as we can, and we might see you earlier if your situation is urgent. In your first appointment we will talk to you about the best plan for future appointments – you can find out more about your first CAMHS appointment below.
We do operate a waiting list for some CAMHS therapies and treatments, but we will discuss this with you and keep in touch with you whilst you're waiting.
Once you have been referred to the CAMHS service, we will get in touch with you by telephone (the number will display as an 'unknown number') to arrange an appointment and will try to find a time and date that works for you where possible. If we are unable to speak to you, we will send you an appointment letter in the post.
Before you come to see us, you might find it helpful to write down things you want to say and things you want to ask us. You might also find it useful to have a look around the information elsewhere on this website under About CAMHS to prepare for your appointment.
While you're waiting to see us at CAMHS, you might find that you want to speak to someone else about how you're feeling, and there are a lot of other organisations that can help if you do. You can contact Childline at any time on 0800 11 11 if you need to talk, and there are also lots of organisations that provide online chat and support if you don't want to speak to someone in person - you'll find the details for these in our section on What's In Dorset For Me.
The first appointment will last for about one hour. It is a chance for you to talk about how you feel. By talking about how you feel our staff can get to know you, understand what's going on for you right now and work out with you ways of dealing with the challenges you're facing. You can ask as many questions as you wish during your appointment.
It's important that we have a good understanding of your situation so for most young people, especially those who are under 16, it's usually helpful for your parents or someone else you trust to join you at the appointment.
Usually people have more than one appointment with us. We will make an assessment of the support you need the first time you come to see us and then agree together how many more appointments you might need. Every individual is different, and the type of treatment or therapy we provide will vary depending on your needs – you can find out more about that in our section on How we Help.
When the CAMHS team works with a child, young person and their family/carers we encourage you to set some goals around what is important to you. This can help you and your worker to keep on track and make sure that you get the most out of your treatment. You will regularly review your goals and treatment with your worker and the other important people in your life in meetings to make sure we are helping you reach those goals.
Depending on your age and how we feel we can best support you, you might be invited to attend a 'Thinking Differently' workshop following your initial assessment. Your parents or carers will also be asked to join you at this session.
The workshop is designed to help parents and carers to understand and support you in the challenges you are facing. It will cover:
- HELP - What can CAMHS provide for parents and carers
- TIPS - How negative thoughts affect our behaviour and keeping control of them
- MOVING FORWARD - What stops us from making changes and how to move forward
- STRENGTHS - How we can make the most of our strengths
- RELAXATION - How this can help
- SELF-HELP – websites, books, strategies to try
There will be workers from CAMHS to talk about these issues but there will also be some activities to practice the skills that you are learning. You won’t have to take part in the activities and can choose to sit them out.
It isn't unusual to be worried about attending a CAMHS appointment. You might be worried about what will happen at the appointment and whether you might be blamed for problems. Talk to the person who referred you to CAMHS, let them know how you feel. You could also talk to your parents or someone else you trust and tell them that you are worried. Look at the information on this website with them, which will give you more detail about what will happen at your first appointment. If you really don’t want to attend, either ask an adult to contact the service and explain the situation or make contact yourself. It may be possible for a home visit to be organised.
There are lots of other people outside of CAMHS, your home, school or college you can talk to - take a look at our section on Getting the Support You Need for advice and a list of local organisations that might also provide you with support.
The Dorset CAMHS service has six clinics, located in Bournemouth, Poole town centre, Canford Heath, Dorchester, Weymouth and Blandford. You can see where our teams are based here, and see photos of our clinics below.
Once you have been referred to CAMHS, we will get in touch to tell you which clinic to come to for your first appointment. Future appointments might take place in locations outside our clinics – we sometimes meet young people in schools, at GP surgeries or at smaller community clinics.
Poole CAMHS clinic - Shaftesbury Road, Poole Town Centre:
Bournemouth CAMHS clinic - Tower Road, Boscombe:
East Dorset & Purbeck CAMHS clinic - Ashdown Close, Poole:
North Dorset CAMHS clinic - Blandford Community Hospital, Milldown Road:
Weymouth CAMHS clinic - Weymouth Community Hospital, Melcombe Avenue:
West Dorset CAMHS clinic - Dorchester Children's Centre, Damers Road:
What you tell us at CAMHS is kept confidential. In your first appointment handwritten notes will be written and this will be added to the computer. No one can access this information unless they are directly working with you.
The only exception to this is if you tell us about any risks of harm that you are experiencing and then we will talk to you (and/or your parents, depending on your age and circumstances) and make sure everything is done that needs to be so you are kept safe. This may involve speaking to other professionals and family members about what you have shared with us.
Often a brief letter will be sent to the person who originally referred you, to tell them about the plan we have agreed for you at CAMHS.