Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
as one

Young People's questions

We know that young people, who are using our services, have lots of questions that they would like answered.

(We know because we asked them!) Please see their questions below, click on them to see our answers.


How do I get involved in developing services?

We really value the feedback from people who have experience of our services and there are a variety of ways you can be involved in developing and improving our HPFT CAMHS services. Please see our Involving you page for more information.

How do I give a compliment or complaint? Can they be anonymous?

Your views are important to us and we are always pleased to hear from people who feel we have provided a good service. We always welcome suggestions on how we can make improvements. We also like to hear from people if they are not happy with the standard of service, care or treatment we provide. See our Compliments and Complaints page for guidance.

What should I expect from my assessment?

The assessment is called a 'Choice Appointment' it is a one off appointment with the aim of developing a shared understanding of the difficulties you may be facing and to develop a plan for the way forward. The whole family are invited to the choice appointment, so all perspectives can be considered, when making choices about the way forward. You will be invited to be seen on your own for part of the appointment, sometimes young people prefer to be seen on their own for the whole appointment, when this is the case we would seek family views at another time, where possible, as long as your parents were aware you were seeking help from us.

In the appointment the difficulties will be discussed, in addition to strengths, family relationships, a developmental history and what has previously been tried to help resolve the difficulties.

Who am I going to see?

During your time using CAMHS services you may come into contact/ be seen by a variety of different professionals, each will be involved in a different area of your care. To find out more please visit our Who's Who page.

What if I don't think the treatment I am receiving is helping?

You can speak to your therapist if you are unhappy with your treatment at CAMHS. This includes if your family is unhappy with your treatment. If this is not possible then you can speak to the CAMHS manager. Finally you can contact PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) who help with a variety of things such as; finding out what is happening with your care, finding out how to get information you want but can't find, helping you to sort out a situation without complaining, or supporting you to complain if you want to but don’t know how to.

They can be contacted on 01707 253916 or via email at pals.herts@hpft.nhs.uk. PALS are available between 9am and 3pm from Monday to Friday

Do my parents need to be involved? Are CAMHS allowed to contact them?

As we work with children and young people, families are a very important part of their day-to-day life. They are also responsible for keeping you safe and making some decisions on your behalf (hopefully with your agreement too). Because of this we usually have the family involved regularly in the Partnership work. This might involve inviting them to review sessions, telephone contact or more formal family work.

We will not usually tell families everything that has been discussed in therapy, but we may share important bits of work or themes from the Partnership work. This can help the family to better understand you and what you are going through, meaning they are better able to support you.

There may be some things you share in therapy that you don’t want your family to know about and this can be kept private from them. However, if you share anything that means we are worried about your safety or someone else’s safety we may have to contact your family and tell them in order to make sure you are kept safe. If this happens it will usually be discussed with you first.

What is there to do whilst I am in the waiting room?

Each individual waiting room is different but in most cases there are toys available in CAMHS receptions for younger children to play with. There are also magazines to look through while you are waiting. Information and leaflets about CAMHS and other helpful services are also on display for you to read while you wait. You are welcome to bring a book, paper and pencils or electronic device with you to use while you wait.

Will I need to take medication?

As part of your assessment and/or care it may be advised by the professional that you take medication to help with your emotions, behaviours or mental health concerns. If this is the case you should be involved in this decision making and fully understand why it is being advised and any potential consequences of taking and not taking the medication. Make sure to ask any questions you may have. For more help with medications and the sort of questions to ask visit our 'Medications - Know your stuff' page.

Can I change the person I am working with?

Sometimes you or the therapist you are seeing may think you are not making progress working together and you may agree a change of therapist is helpful. Sometimes you might make this decision alone. If possible it is helpful if you can speak about this decision with your therapist first. If you do not feel comfortable doing this you may get support from someone else to speak to them (a parent or another professional), or you may speak to the manager of the CAMHS team about changing therapist.

What should I do if I find talking about my problems difficult?

Be honest with the professional you are seeing and explain this to them. Some young people find it helpful to bring a written copy of their problems for the professional to read through, either in a notebook or diary, in order to start conversation. Additionally you may find it helpful to bring something to doodle on as it often helps to distract from the environment and reduce the need for eye contact, this can make talking about your problems easier or more comfortable.

What do the Tiers mean?

Tiers refer to different levels of services and each level differs in the support it provides and how it provides this support. Additionally each tier differs in who the services are designed for. Visit our CAMHS Tiers Page for more information.

What if I don't want to attend the appointment?

We want children and young people to find coming to CAMHS helpful. If you are not finding it helpful or don’t want to come then it is worth working out why and if this could be overcome. For example if you don’t get along with the professional you are seeing, you could ask to change them. If the goals you have set are not being achieved, you could feed that back and set new goals. 

If you feel you are better and no longer need to come. Sometimes your family or other professionals will decide it is for the best that you attend CAMHS, when you do not agree. They may think there are things you need to work on that you don’t see a problem with and it will be agreed between the clinician you see at CAMHS and you and your family, whether it will be helpful to keep attending when you don’t want to. Therapy can be especially difficult if you do not want to go.

Do I need to fill in any questionnaires?

You will be given questionnaires as part of your assessment and the answers to these will help CAMHS work out how best to support and help you. Additionally you will be given questionnaires about your experience of the service, by filling these in you help to show us what we are getting right and what we need to improve.

Will my school/college know I am going to CAMHS?

Your school/college will only know you are going to CAMHS, if they are the ones who referred you, if CAMHS has contacted them because they feel they could provide additional support for you in the school environment or if you or your parent/carer tells them.

Part of the care coordinator role can involve regular contact with the young persons school. The contact may be more frequent if your difficulties are related to or significantly impact on your education. We can meet with or speak to your school to help them think about ways of supporting you. This will only be done with your permission in most instances, however if you say something about school that suggests concerns about your safety or the safety of another pupil we have to pass this information on.

How long will I see CAMHS for and how often do I need to go?

This will depend on a variety of factors for the individual.

Individual work in CAMHS is likely to be fortnightly, however this is agreed between the therapist and child or young person’s need. If you are going through a particularly stressful period you may attend more regularly. When you are coming to the end of your Partnership work you may gradually attend less frequently to get used to no longer attending CAMHS. If you have Family Therapy in CAMHS these appointments are usually monthly.

There are not a set number of sessions that children and young people come to CAMHS for. We hold regular reviews to discuss how the work is going, with the first review usually after six sessions. The Partnership work is focused on meeting the goals you set at the start of the work, with an aim to plan for finishing your work with CAMHS once the goals are met.

Who will attend the appointments with me?

Your family are invited to attend with you because it can be helpful to hear from people who live with you or are close to you, about what has brought you to CAMHS.

Some people will bring one or both of their parents or carers. We also sometimes have siblings attend to, and grandparents. It is up to you who you want with you and you will have the opportunity to be on your own if you feel more comfortable without family in the room. Your family will also be given the opportunity to speak privately without you present if they want to.

Sometimes it might be a professional that will bring you along to your appointment.


What kind of therapy do CAMHS offer?

Therapy at CAMHS is referred to as partnership work, this is the additional appointments after your choice appointment. We have a lot of different therapies that we use and we match the therapy best suited to your goals that you decided on in your choice appointment.

I am having a hard time and need help, who can I contact whilst I am waiting for my appointment?

You could try talking to a family member, friend or teacher you trust about the things you are experiencing. Alternatively if you find it easier to talk to a stranger you could contact the Samaritans or visit the free online support service Kooth.

If it is an emergency call 999 or visit your local Accident & Emergency department at hospital.

If you are already using HPFT CAMHS services you can contact your care co-ordinator if it is during office hours Mon-Fri 9-5 or call our out of hours helpline on 01438 843322. This service is available to our service users and carers for advice and support through the night from 5pm-9am on weekdays and around the clock at weekends and on bank holidays.

To find support, local to you, try visiting the Hub of Hope.


What does the word referral mean and how do I get referred?

A referral is when someone you know (often your GP/Doctor, teacher, a family member or friend) calls or writes to CAMHS to ask them if they will help you. You can get referred by seeing your local GP/Doctor and explaining your mental health concerns or asking your school to contact CAMHS. However the quickest way is to self refer (this is when you call directly and ask if CAMHS can help) you can do this by calling our single point of access number on 0300 777 0707.

What does CAMHS stand for?

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. We offer support to children and young people who have difficulties with their emotions, behaviour or mental health. We can also provide support to families too. We are made up of a variety of different teams including specialised services such as our Targeted team, Eating disorder team, Crisis assessment and treatment team (CCATT), Adolescent and families drug and alcohol service (AFDASH) and Inpatient services offered at Forest House. For more information on our different teams please visit our 'Clinics and Teams' section.