Following on from their response to CORC's report on child- and parent-reported outcomes, children and young people have suggested the following guidance for mental health professionals for telling children and young people about the report.
The report suggested three main groups of outcome for children and young people who use CAMHS: those who recover, those who reliably improve, and those who deteriorate. Talking to service users about this may seem difficult as clinicians don’t want to discourage them by talking about the possibility they wont get better. However there are ways to have these conversations with children which can be beneficial
- Talking about wellbeing and coping (recovery). It may be helpful to say something like:
‘Some of the people who come to this service will get over all of the difficulties (recover, cope, achieve wellbeing). This means that the symptoms or diffiulcites which they had when they came are not having a big impact on their life anymore. This means that they don’t think and feel in the same way as someone who has a mental health problem by the time they leave.’
This helps the child to know that there is a possibility of getting better, while avoiding saying that things go back to the way they were before. Children and young people tell us that even when they have recovered their lives can be different from before – often in a positive way
2. Talking about reliable improvement. It may be helpful to say something like
Some young people who come here will find ways of feeling a lot better. Some young people might still have some difficult symptom or feelings when they leave. Even if we can’t help these young people to feel completely better, we can help them to find ways to manage their difficulties better so that they can still have a life they enjoy living and do well in.
This explanation does not gloss over the fact that some children and young people do not get rid of all of their feelings or difficulties when they leave the service. This is an important piece of information for service users to know. However, it is also important that the young person knows that they can still have a life better than the one they currently have.
3. Talking about deterioration. It may be helpful to say something like:
For some young people, things get worse while they are working with us. It’s really important that we know this so that we can change what we're doing together and try something else to help how you are feeling. It is no ones fault when these young people do not get better right away, it just means that we need to find a different way forwards together.
This prepares the child for the possibility of CAMHS not helping them. It encourages help seeking behaviour if things are not working and honest reporting on patient reported outcome measures. It also means that they are less likely to blame themselves if things do not improve in their time in CAMHS.