How can a mental health service help your family?
Adopted children and children who are in, or have been in, the care system can have a wide range of mental health problem as well as difficulties in school, at home and with peers. We offer a highly specialist assessment of a child or young person’s mental health and well-being across all these aspects of functioning, and then make recommendations. But why are we a different and unique service in the UK?
We offer personalised assessments
We are proud that we offer personalised assessment, and avoid any simpler ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions for adopted and looked after children [see Assessment for more information].
This is harder than it sounds because most mental health services are organised around mental health disorders and diagnoses. Our service is different to most NHS services because we are not organised around one type of disorder or Care Pathway. Rather our team has high levels of clinical expertise across a range of problems, including trauma, attachment, behaviour, anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, self-harming, risky behaviours etc, and at the same time that we are experts in the adoption journey and life story issues.
This combination of knowledge means that children do not get pigeon-holed into single disorders, nor do they get denied access to assessments based on failing to meet criteria for one specific disorder, when their issues may lie across several.
We offer personalised recommendations
We use the latest research knowledge to ‘unpick’ and make sense of complex presentations to create treatment recommendations that are personalised for the specific child and their family.
We use the evidence-base and routinely measure outcomes
As part of our commitment to evidence-based practice in our work we always use outcome measures to see if what we are proposing is actually working. That way we can be sure that what we are doing is meeting your needs as a family, and if not, then we can review it, and try something different.
We keep a dynamic approach and review regularly
The needs of adopted children and their families can be very complex and it is important to keep an open mind throughout assessment and treatment to try to capture what the specific issues are for any one family. We welcome feedback from families to ensurethat we are concentrating on the issues that are more important for them.
We are flexible about timing
We will see children and their families or carers, at any point in their journey into and out of the care system, including pre-adoption and even earlier within Care Proceedings, because we do not believe that arbitrary distinctions such as legal status should be barriers to children accessing appropriate and effective services.
We work as part of a team of National experts
We are fortunate to be situated within the National NHS CAMHS Services at the South London & Maudsley Hospital, amongst the National services for inpatient and outpatient (community) services, and are able to draw upon expertise of our colleagues there for especially complex presentations or cross-referrals as necessary.
We are committed to partnership working
Although we offer a range of evidence-based treatments ourselves [see Treatment], we also regularly work in partnerships with services across the NHS, local authorities, education and the voluntary sector to devise a package of care tailored to the child and family. We believe this is a particular strength of our approach because we do not assess any child with a particular treatment package in mind and can keep options open.
We are research experts in this area
Our team has always had a strong research presence nationally and internationally [see Research] especially around attachment, parenting, children in care, trauma, neuropsychology and the effects of maltreatment. We continuously strive to translate research, our own and others, into clinical practice and recommendations. We are committed to using the latest evidence from research to inform our clinical work and we prioritise evidence-based treatments.