NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Walsall child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) saw an opportunity to reduce mental health (MH) waiting times.
Around 20% of adolescents may experience MH problems in any given year and 50% of MH problems are established by age 14.
With a growing population and an increased awareness in MH and MH services, waiting lists were growing at a rapid speed.
It was agreed by all that a solution was needed and that Walsall CAMHS needed to support and provide intervention to the young people within the borough.
Within the CAMHS service, staff pulled together to regularly review caseloads, increase supervision and offer additional training so that it felt more resourced to deal with the demand on the service.
Additional training meant the development of new clinics, such as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and support services, for our Looked After Children (LAC) service.
Through the CAMHS transformation plan and support from the CCG, we saw the birth of our GP Liaison service, which enables us to not reject referrals and work together as multi agencies to signpost them to the most appropriate services in the borough.
We were also able to commence our CAMHS Crisis team, allowing immediate intervention and support for our most risky patients through another route into the service.
We have specialist services for those young people placed in the care system so that they can receive thoughtful and specialist intervention, which meet their needs, from specially trained staff.
We have dedicated CAMHS staff based in our schools to help support teachers with the management and recognition of emotional and behavioral difficulties.
We continued to work on relationships with our local services and local authority (LA) to help support young people in Walsall.
This may mean that young people don’t need to wait to be seen by CAMHS, which can indirectly support schools, LA staff and carers to support children and young people.
Our CCG supported us through the waiting time initiative, which allowed an increasing in staff.
Staff were recruited and trained on the CAMHS service and were able to start seeing patients in a timely manner.
Following this, all patients on the waiting list were contacted to see how things were, if the service was still required and to help think about the best clinical intervention.
All of the above interventions saw a reduction and a complete halt on CAMHS waiting lists for treatments.
Patients and families did no longer need to wait extended periods of time for vital support and Walsall CAMHS was able to offer the early intervention that was needed.
By working together, supporting staff within the service, developing new services and bringing in additional resources, patients will now commence treatment within four to six weeks of their initial assessment.
As with any systems, there are limits on the finances available and staffing structures and numbers change.
At any given time the service can experience staff sickness and turn, which can prove difficult and put a strain on capacity.
As a service, we encourage the development of staff and constantly work to keep growing and adapting the CAMHS service. This can pose another challenge, as all clinicians need to keep their skills up to date and provide the best evidence-based care.
The service will continue to support staff in the clinical management of cases, work with the CCG and embrace new opportunities and adaptations to allow us to continually meet the needs of the young people in a timely, effective and thoughtful way.
Rosie Millar is the clinical lead for Walsall CAMHS