First CAMHS Appointment – What To Expect

Sitting in a blue room, shaking with tears rolling down my face. A strange woman tries to ask me for the fifth time if I know the cause of my depression. For those who want to know what went on in my first CAMHS counselling session those sentences will sum it. I was expecting a lot of horrible things to happen during the session, and I’m glad to say most of them did not occur.

(Not really) Me sitting in the waiting room

(Not really) Me sitting in the waiting room

So at your CAMHS appointment you will sit down in the waiting room (actually… that’s like most appointments). I remember the waiting room to be mostly blue and white, and in fact the other rooms I looked in where also very blue. After telling the woman at the desk I had arrived for my appointment I sat down. There were magazines for teenagers and toys for younger children but I chose to just sit and wait. After about 10 minutes another woman came into the room. They shook hands with me and my mum, then led me to the other side of the building. This was my counsellor.

We were the only two in the room she took me to, however there were six or seven chairs in a circle as you would expect for a group meeting. I chose a seat and she sat down next to me. The first five minutes of our conversation were mostly introductions and her telling me she would try to help as much as she can while taking down notes. Then it begin! “So, what do you think is wrong with you?”, “When did your depression begin?”, “Do you always feel sad?”. Question after question, at first I thought I was on a quiz show, with the grand prize being the eradication of my depression.

What CAMHS Will Question You About:
– What you think is wrong with you, and how it began
– Your home, school and social life
– Who you are close to, and relationship with family
– Symptoms of mental illness (do you? how long?)
– Whether you use drugs and alcohol
– Anything which might help them find the cause of your problems
You can refuse to answer any question, if you stay silent they will move on and possibly come back to it later.

Yes, everything I have mentioned above they asked me about. As the conversation went on I became more anxious. I was shaking within about 10 minutes, and my counsellor kept asking me about it. We eventually got onto the things I did not want to talk about such as my suicidal thoughts and self-harming. I do not mind talking to my counsellor about them when I know them better, but I had only known them for half an hour. I was shaking a lot, looking down and the other way, tears were rolling down my faces and my breathing was starting to become heavy. A panic attack you might say.

Throughout the whole conversation, the counsellor remained calm and did not make me answer anything I did not want to answer. When they realised I was not going to answer any more questions (I responded to the last ten with “I don’t know”) they booked me another session for next Wednesday. This session lasted about 50 minutes, and then we went back to the waiting room. The counsellor collected my mum and they talked privately for another 30 minutes, I presume it was about my home life but it could be anything. Then we left…

I wrote this for those who worry about their first CAMHS appointment (or any appointment). I know I was worrying about it, and I have talked to many other people who worry about it. My message is simple, don’t worry. Okay, so I had a panic attack but nothing bad really happened. Do you have any memorable counselling sessions? Share your stories below.

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17 thoughts on “First CAMHS Appointment – What To Expect

  1. deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

    My first counselling session was….well, I can’t remember much because I was in floods, if I’m honest. The same day I’d been bandaged up and I told someone about my, um..it’s kind of hard to write it, but, uh, attempt.
    I remember thinking that I didn’t need it, when I did. I sometimes think I need to go back to counselling…I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it did wonders for me. Especially as the counsellor was absolutely lovely. That’s a big factor, I think. Yeah she was cool!

    Like

    • Yeah, I’ve talked to so many people about it now that when I actually reached my counsellor I realised I needed help. I haven’t talked to enough people to figure out what I say about my depression, maybe I’ll get there one day.

      (CAMHS is free, go!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. depressionless,

    i honor you for sticking through this. it sounds like it was quite difficult. first appointments are always hard; trying to boil down someone’s life in 50 minutes doesn’t seem possible. even a baby 50 minutes old wouldn’t remember every detail about their life.

    then the question arises what is significant and what isn’t. I know that answer has changed for me almost cycle to cycle. what initially ruled my first depression is hardly a blip on the radar now. further exploration has upturned different roots of my depression each and every cycle.

    i’m wondering, did they ask this question? “how can I help?” if not, how do you think you would have answered it?

    Like

    • Yeah, they asked “the question”. I’ve been asked by my GP as well, I never know how to answer it. I don’t know how they can help, all I can say is “get rid of my depression” which is the obvious answer – I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t want to get rid of my depression.

      P.S. I got your message…

      Like

      • get rid of the depression is the obvious answer. unfortunately, that is something we as individuals have to accomplish on our own. we can get help along the way, but victory is ours (singular) and ours alone.

        so, maybe the better question is what do you see as the largest stumbling block today in beating your depression? how can family/friends/doctors/counselors help you with that obstacle? perhaps each of the groups deserves different answers.

        (now, don’t freak out) i don’t think you can beat depression, at least not in one step, in one day.

        I do have hope that you will be able to conquer every stumbling block that stands before you. some stumbling blocks will be dispensed with easily while others may seem as tall as scafell pike. i have followed you for less than a month and seen you scale seemingly un surmountable obstacles. keep at it and i have hope that you will be standing on top of a defeated depression.

        Like

      • get rid of the depression is the obvious answer. unfortunately, that is something we as individuals have to accomplish on our own. we can get help along the way, but victory is ours (singular) and ours alone.

        so, maybe the better question is what do you see as the largest stumbling block today in beating your depression? how can family/friends/doctors/counselors help you with that obstacle? perhaps each of the groups deserves different answers.

        (now, don’t freak out) i don’t think you can beat depression, at least not in one step, in one day.

        I do have hope that you will be able to conquer every stumbling block that stands before you. some stumbling blocks will be dispensed with easily while others may seem as tall as scafell pike. i have followed you for less than a month and seen you scale seemingly un surmountable obstacles. keep at it and i have hope that you will be standing on top of a defeated depression.

        you are also wonderful with words. our side, our world needs people like you to tell their story. one story at a time, we change the perceptions of mental disorders and help to counter asinine beliefs like, you are just faking it, you just have to be strong, you are not trying hard enough, you should just get over. every word you write helps to at least begin to turn one mind away from those silly stigmas..

        Like

    • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
      It’s the NHS (UK) run mental health service for those under the age of 19, I don’t like the name though because it makes me feel like I’m 10 years old. And thanks!

      Like

      • Thanks! I’m in the U.S. So I had no idea 😊 That’s awesome that there are free mental health services there. What you are suffering is very hard and I hope this resource is a help to you. About the name of the agency I understand: I used to go to a pediatrician (child doctor) until my late teens.

        Like

  3. The first (and, as of now, only) time I was hospitalized, I freaked the hell out. I’d gone to my regular therapy session. I’d been severely depressed for like 3 or 4 months and things just kept getting worse. I was self harming and having suicidal thoughts that had crystalized into more concrete plans. I was living alone at the time and my doc asked me if I thought I would be Ok going home after the session. I said, “I don’t know if I trust myself.” She told me she had no choice but to send me to the hospital. I started sobbing and chain smoking and calling the 2 friends I had who had been to a psych ward while my doc made arrangements for me. I’m not gonna lie, it was no vacation, but I’m really glad I went ’cause a) I’m not dead yet and b) I’m not so scared to go back now if I ever have a really bad episode again. The hospital, for me, is now just one more weapon in my arsenal to combat bipolar/depression. Not really the same as first therapy experience, but it was a really big moment in my life and scared the living crap out of me. Bottom line, be it counseling, meds, doctors or hospitals, sometimes you just gotta do the damned thing. So, good for you for going for it and lots of luck in your future sessions. -LB

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you stuck with the appointment, that is a feat in itself! Having a bipolar child myself and knowing the contestant battle it is I can tell you determination is a great factor in success! Keep your appointments and I look forward to reading your successes and road bumps along the way. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      • It wasn’t too bad actually. I was just so not in the mood! I really just wanted to be left alone, you know? I wanted to be away from people. But it was ok in the end. I’m glad I went. The problem with Depression is that it robs you of all your optimism. I just kept thinking ‘no one can help me anyway’
        But of course they can and I know that now.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I went to my GP (doctor) and she prescribed Prozac. I’ve been on meds pretty much since then, with alterations to the prescriptions, but got very little actual help with talk therapy. I think talking to someone “safe” is a huge part of getting better.
      You are being brave and taking an important step in self-care. You are going to be okay. Keep reaching out!

      Like

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