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In our first featured blog from leading children and young people’s mental health charity, YoungMinds, Trainer and Social Worker, Phil Rigotti, talks about managing the transition from CAMHS to AMHS.

"I like metaphors. They help me see a situation differently. So here’s one that I hope will help us when thinking about a young persons journey from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS).

I have been lost in the jungle for the last two years. But fortunately, 18 months ago, I bumped into Bear Grylls who offered to help me out. He helped me with some deep-rooted fears and anxieties and encouraged me to be confident in my strengths and abilities. He patiently listened and explored with me about what makes me ‘me’ and the things I’ve experienced; my heartbreak, my distress. He suggested some things that could help, and with his support I tried some of those ideas. There have been snakes, bugs, cliffs and raging torrents to contend with but with Bear Grylls on my side, I have tackled them. Bear understands me and I trust him with my life. One day whilst hacking through the vines, Bear tells me that in a couple of months he will be saying goodbye to me as I am now too old. We will reach a ravine together where there is a rope bridge - you know the type; old rope and rotten wood. On the other side of the bridge is another wilderness guide who will continue the journey with me. Bear won’t come over the bridge with me but assures me that it will all be fine. Well, I’m not that comfortable with the whole, “It’s perfectly safe. It’ll be fine once you get to the other side” rope bridge thing. Why would he not come with me? I kind of imagined he might actually carry me across that bridge. He says he’ll miss me but he has to go as there are others that are lost in the forest and need his help. 

Now, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the many young people who transition from CAMHS to AMHS every year. As social workers, it’s really important we question our relationship with them. Think about the nature and quality of your relationship rather than your job role or specialism. A young person speaking in the report ‘Pushed into the Shadows’ (2007) said “You need something in-between rather than just jumping from child to adult need one specific person who will stick with you and not lots of different people who will just pass you on the whole time.” Given that this was published nearly ten years ago I wonder if we are keeping the voice of that young person alive when we plan transitions. The principle of the ‘named person’ is one that is described as the person ‘who knows them well’. 

This ‘one specific person’ is the most essential element to get right if we are to achieve what the young person would view as a successful transition.

So, there I am at the bridge. All I have to do is cross over, right? Well, I’m scared. I’m anxious. I feel abandoned. I know I have to do this, I understand the process. But please, just let Bear carry me across. For the young people you work with, who is their Bear Grylls?"

To read more about Phil Rigotti’s interpretation of the transition from CAMHS to AMHS, turn to page 20 of the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News.

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