I asked Autistic people about their experience of CAMHS: Here’s what they said
I have been writing about CAMHS and their failing of Autistic children and young people. The stories I have been hearing are deeply upsetting, and a scathing indictment of a service that does not seem to care that Autistic children are losing their wellbeing and lives for the sake of protecting resources. Despite years of evidence and calls for CAMHS to improve their service, they have failed to do so. Recently I decided to ask Autistic people on the X app what their experiences had been. Here is what they said.
Refusing to see Autistic children
This tweet stood out to me because CAMHS frequently use the tagline of “does not meet threshold” to refuse access to their service. The threshold, it seems, is multiple suicide attempts or serious risk to others. This crisis-driven intervention model is costing Autistic children their lives, and those lives are on the hands of CAMHS services that have failed to support them. The story in this tweet does not stop there.
CAMHS are regularly taking this approach to Autistic children and young people, and it is time that this was changed. Parents and carers should not be expected to do the job that CAMHS refuse to do.
The CAMHS to prison pipeline
Lane et al (2021) discusses how over half of young people referred to Forensic CAMHS (the criminal justice branch of CAMHS) were first referred to general CAMHS. Over 70% of those under Forensic CAMHS presented with complex needs that often included Autism and/or ADHD. This highlights to me the significant risk of young people finding their way into the criminal justice system, especially when they do not receive appropriate support. This parent highlights the institutionalised parent carer blame that was inflicted upon them, a story that I hear all too often. CAMHS need to stop blaming parents for the failings of a system that is broken by design.
Crisis-driven intervention model
Crisis-driven intervention has been a problematic model within UK mental health services for a long time. In my opinion, it is the result of chronic underfunding by our government choking services of their resources. The approach that is taken, as a result, is to only handle the most pressing cases. The problem is that when left without support, many, if not most, will come to crisis at some point. Crisis-driven interventions models do nothing but put lives at risk. This apprach by CAMHS is further evidenced by the following tweet.
Leaving Autistic young people until they have attempted suicide is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with children’s lives. This is systemic negligence.
CAMHS needs to be fundamentally restructured if it is not able to support suicidal children.
CAMHS don’t deal with Autistic children
Again, we see parents being made to do the job’s that professionals are supposed to be doing. The fact that CAMHS refuse to see Autistic young people and children is exactly why we are campaigning in the first place. There are no suitable alternatives, and it is active discrimination against Autistic people.
How can you support the CAMHS crisis campaign?
- Sign this petition
- Sign this open letter to the health secretary
- Use the form below to sign up for the CAMHS crisis mailing list
- Share this article and the others on social media, other articles can be found here
- Email a short 2 minute video to firstname.lastname@example.org about your experiences of CAMHS failing Autistic children and young people. We will be using them to make a YouTube film.