Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are turning away Autistic children seeking their support. This is putting them in harms way. Autistic children are more likely to need support with their mental health, so why are they being denied it?
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If you believe that there are no issues with the way that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) treats UK Autistic children and young people, I would direct you to take a look at the ongoing petition that has over 200,000 signatures. That’s a fifth of a million people who have witnessed the failures and harms exacted on Autistic children and young people by a service that is meant to save them. Something that I keep coming back to is that CAMHS as a service needs to do more than open it’s doors to our children. In it’s current […]
This article was co-authored by David Gray-Hammond and Katie Munday There is an ongoing crisis in services such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) when it comes to Autistic young people’s mental health. Failing to support our Autistic young people can have a big impact on our wellbeing as parents as we watch our children go through the same systemic discrimination that we have often experienced ourselves. Support for the child means support for the whole family Seeing the invalidation and gaslighting that can take place when approaching CAMHS can lead to trauma responses in ourselves. Importantly, appropriate […]
This article was co-authored by David Gray-Hammond and Tanya Adkin This article includes exerts from interviews conducted by David, all interviewee’s gave their permission for quotes to be used. Tanya has demand avoided weighing in on this topic for quite some time. Not for no good reason. Tanya has felt torn with this topic and the potential outcome of the petition that has been circulating and included in David’s previous articles on CAMHS. This petition has been signed by nearly 190,000 people as we type this. The number is climbing. The petition shines a light on the routine refusal of […]
I don’t talk about my childhood much. Partly because I don’t want to upset my readers, but also because it is not my story alone to tell. The people who did so much harm to me as a child also caused harm to others that I love immensely. A sad part of my life is that as a result of the harm done to me, I made choices in my life that hurt those people I loved. I don’t blame myself, but I also haven’t quite reach the point where I can release myself from the sense that I need […]
I recently wrote an article about my experiences as a former patient of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). In this article, I spoke about the effect that failing to support me properly had on my developing individuality and the immense suffering it led to in my early adult life (please find the article here). It was a widely shared piece of writing, but one theme has come up that I feel is important to address. What are the specific ways that CAMHS fails Autistic children? This is difficult to summarise. There is an interconnected network of systemic failings […]
As I have mentioned in previous articles (which can be found here and here), there is an ongoing petition which at the time of writing has over 180,000 signatures. This petition was started because of the ongoing issue with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) refusing to see or support Autistic children and young people. This in itself seems bad enough, Autistic people deserve support with their psychological wellbeing as much as anyone else, and with the high incidence of trauma among Autistic people, you can imagine that a service like CAMHS should be a lifeline to us. […]
When we think of mental health services, I’m sure a lot of images are called to mind. Some people might imagine the institutions of days gone by, where people in significant states of dysregulation under the watchful eye of orderlies, nurses, and doctors. Others might think of therapy sessions, sitting in comfortable chairs with a well-dressed person employing Freudian psychoanalytic analysis. If you’re an Autistic child, you probably don’t know what to picture; it’s likely you haven’t been given access to the service that is meant to support you. This service is the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. You […]
Autistic children, much like Autistic adults, live in a world that bombards them with traumatic experiences. There is often a misunderstanding around what trauma is caused by the neuronormative standard of what is allowed to be viewed as traumatic. The truth is that trauma can look different for Autistic people. Trauma that often lands our children on a CAMHS waiting list. It is no surprise then that in a previous article I found that 70% of Autistic people experience issues with their mental health compared to 25% of the general population. This has resulted in a staggeringly high suicide rate […]
If you are unaware of current issues with CAMHS, you can catch up by visiting my CAMHS Crisis resource page. However, the cliff noted version is this; Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are turning away Autistic children and young people from their services. This is very unethical, but that lack of ethics goes further. You could be forgiven for not knowing what “Parity of Esteem” is. Parity of Esteem is a concept set forth by the House of Commons. The basic premise is that it requires an ethical approach that places mental health in equal priority with physical […]
The UK Government have been aware with the issues with CAMHS for Autistic young people since at least 2014. Despite this nothing has changed. David dissects a document provided to the House of Commons on this issue.
TW: This article talks about specifics of suicide among Autistic children and young people.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are the main mental health services for children and young people in the UK. The service is largely known as a branch of the NHS, although private services often have their own CAMHS service. Their remit is to address mental health issues within people under the age of 18. In principle, this sounds very good. A free NHS service that works with young people experiencing mental health issues. Unfortunately, their is a significant disparity in how they support Autistic young people. To be blunt, they dont, with the vast majority of Autistic people […]
It’s no secret in the Autistic community that autism is a deciding factor in the success of a young person’s referral to CAMHS. For a long time, Autistic people and their families have been speaking out against the practice of gatekeeping of services and diagnostic overshadowing by professionals. During my time trying to put these failures into context I have found some interesting pieces of evidence that prove the government have known about these failures for a long time. In this article I intend to go over the executive summary of a 2014 document submitted to parliament by Act Now […]
For anyone who has been following my writing recently, you will be aware that there is an ongoing campaign regarding the failings of Child and Adolescent Mental health Services (CAMHS). In particular, there has been a great deal of discussion around the fact that they will often refuse to see Autistic children and young people. Beyond this though is a pervasive lack of skill and competence among professionals working Autistic service users. CAMHS failures don’t rest solely in the hands of under-trained staff. To understand the issues that present themselves, we have to consider the lack of resources and funding. […]
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are the main providers of mental health support for children and young people on the UK. Despite this, many Autistic people and their families find that they are turned away from these services because CAMHS are not equipped to work with us. Autism, it seems, represents a riddle they are unwilling to solve. However, CAMHS failure to support Autistic children is broader than gatekeeping access. How far does CAMHS refusal to support Autistic young people reach? To really answer this question, we have to consider the myriad ways that CAMHS has become an […]
I was recently sent a BBC article regarding multiple deaths of Autistic young people occurring despite coroners issuing “prevention of future death” (PFD) notices. These notices are only issued when a person’s death is the result of systemic failings and are issued when changes need to be made in order to prevent future deaths. The BBC article looked through 4,000 PFD notices over the past 10 years, and what they found is harrowing. What is the risk of suicide amongst Autistic young people? According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Autistic children in the UK are 28× more likely to […]
I have explored (extensively) the issues with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in England. The particular focus of my writing has been their mistreatment of Autistic children and young people. Something I haven’t touched on is there well documented mishandling of processes around the assessment and diagnosis of autism itself. This has been a point of contention for some time now between Autistic people and professionals. The following case study highlights mistake that in my opinion are all too common. The trust in question is Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT). The background of the Autistic young person […]
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the UK exist to help children and young people who are experiencing mental health problems. Despite this, Autistic children and young people are finding that such services either refuse or fail to deliver meaningful intervention, even when they are in the depths of mental health crisis. One of the ways that they do this is through positioning their parents and carers as being at fault for the young person’s mental health problem. What is institutional parent/carer blame and why is it relevant to Autistic people and their families? “Disabled children and their […]
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the most misunderstood mental health diagnoses that exists. Misrepresentation in the media and everyday vernacular means that OCD has come to be understood as something that requires a meticulous attention to detail and love of order. The truth is far more upsetting for those who are diagnosed with this condition, and Autistic children and young people represent a significant portion of this population. despite this Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are failing to support Autistic children and young people with what can be a very debilitating experience. How common is OCD […]
Being an Autistic teenager is hard. My life was no exception to this rule. After years of trauma and loss, I was at breaking point. Then, one day, my mother came to hurry me up with getting ready for school. What she found was not the resilient and hardworking son she was always so proud of. No, what she found was the husk of her child. Unable to speak or do anything but rock back and forth while sobbing. I was 15 years old, and for the next three months, I would barely be able to leave the house. Let […]
This article is a guest post written by Asher Jenner Some of the content of this article may be triggering I was a happy child until the age of 5 when I went to mainstream school. On the first day of school, I began self-harming and by the end of that week I attempted to use a ligature to strangle myself. I knew I was different to all the other children in school who could simply obey the school rules, be quiet, sit still, concentrate on work, not shout out answers to questions and enjoy team sports and games and […]
I asked Autistic Twitter/X about their experiences with CAMHS, here's a handful of their responses.
Since this campaign to change the way that CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) treats Autistic children and young people started, I have been blown away by the bravery and commitment to making a difference I have seen. Hundreds of thousands of you have come forward with your own stories, laying bare that which makes you vulnerable. I feel as though we are drawing a line in the sand; this year of 2023 is the year where we no longer accept statutory services threatening the wellbeing and lives of our Autistic children and young people. In line with this, […]