My daughter the self-harmer: The CAMHS appointment

It is estimated that more than one in five girls self-harm in the UK. One parent details the journey from the realisation that her teen was self-harming, through the maze of bureaucracy to try and get help.

Links to organisations that can offer help and support are listed at the bottom of this post.

Chapter three: The CAMHS appointment

We were told there could be a really long wait for the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) appointment, so I was really surprised when the letter came through in about a month.

I was so nervous. I wasn’t’ sure I could actually get my daughter to turn up to the appointment. And if she did turn up, would she just stay quiet or worse lie and tell them that everything was fine? Would they be able to get her to be honest with them? She hadn’t been honest with any of the counsellors, so why would this be any different? Would they judge me? Would they be willing to help her or would they think that her situation wasn’t serious enough? Could they actually help her?

If I was this worried and nervous, I have no idea what emotions my 12 year old was going through.

It took a lot of convincing and persuading for me to get her to agree to come to the appointment. Her agreeing to seek help was, in itself, a massive step.

The day of the appointment started off badly. She didn’t want to go and had a few angry episodes during the day. It took a lot of bribery for me to get her to go to the appointment. I promised her that they would be able to help her. But what if they couldn’t, then what? I just felt that this was only chance to get her the help she needed and I couldn’t let this pass us by.

When we met with the CAMHS practitioner, she asked my daughter if she knew why she was there. She replied by saying, “ No, not really”. The practitioner then read out the letter of referral from the doctor, and asked me to say why I thought we were there. This was so tough as I knew my daughter would be mortified at having to sit there and listen to me telling a bunch of strangers all about her anger and self harming, and her talking about wanting to kill herself.

The practitioner was brilliant at getting my daughter to open up and talk. I left the room so they could talk privately. Whilst I was in the waiting room, the same fears returned. I’d promised my daughter and myself that we would get help. I was pinning everything on this, and I didn’t know what to do or where to go if they turned us away.

I was called back into the room and again the practitioner was fantastic. She didn’t say anything was wrong with my daughter but she did say she could help her by having some sessions with her, and also suggested a group mindfulness session. Both of these would start the following week.

I was so immensely proud of my daughter that day. I was in awe of how she’d handled the situation with everyone focusing on her. She was able to articulate herself and her situation so clearly and she was so brave. I no longer felt like I was dealing with this alone. We finally had help.

I went home with much more hope than I’d had in ages and collapsed. I hadn’t realised how much tension and stress I’d been carrying around trying to get my daughter help – and finally we were getting help. It was such a sense of relief.

Read more from our blogger mum’s story:


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