"Mental Health Care"

About: Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust / Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Torbay Hospital

(as the patient),

I have been involved with the CAMHS service as a patient for more than 4 years now, originally due to issues with Anorexia Nervosa, then a much later diagnosis of severe depression leading to suicidal thoughts and social anxiety.

At first due to changes in staff I seemed to see a clinician about every 6 months, and during the worst stages of my eating disorder no support was available. I was not offered more frequent sessions or dietetic work and despite recording notable weight loss it took almost a year before we were given family therapy, at which point I was on the border of having to be hospitalised. I know eating disorders are best intervened early, but in my experience no attempt was made to try and step in before things were incredibly desperate.

After finding that I distinctly hated family therapy I moved on to individual sessions fortnightly/three weekly where we tried to work on my eating disorder. After about two years of no progress it was finally discovered that I also suffered from severe depression, which was probably partially behind the reason we could make little to none progress in our sessions. At this point a psychiatrist was introduced, who started me on antidepressants - which have been steadily increased over the past year or so.

After this diagnosis meetings were increased to weekly and more work was done surrounding this, and we focused on double checking if any other illnesses had been missed over the past few years. Anti-depressants made very little effect on my mood but meetings with my psychiatrist were so infrequent (every 3/4 months) that nothing much could be done. I was also introduced to a sleep medication which after a long long time of finding the correct dose for me, has finally began to make an impact.

After my weight stabilised it was decided that we could return to fortnightly sessions which sometimes turn into only once monthly. I expressed my concern over my welfare and safety at such infrequent meetings, but no change was made until after a suicide attempt where suddenly everyone got involved again.

I can't really fault the hospital team at Torbay General, however as the hospital area is not the same as the one I live in, I was assigned a new CAMHS worker as records had not been checked and seen that I was already involved with my own support worker team. After being discharged the support received was very good - the Outreach Team visited my home twice or thrice weekly and were excellent at what they did, supporting me when the time was right for me to gradually return to school, creating a coping folder and comfort box, and so many very useful skills.

After 8 weeks or so we came to a close with the outreach team (as they are only short term) and in the past month or so since I have not met with them I have only seen my counsellor/CAMHS worker once when we had agreed that twice weekly was the best way forward.

Key points to take away from my ramblings:

- Improve early intervention schemes for patients with mental health issues (it really is the best way to stop things before they are catastrophic)

- Ensure meeting dates are kept to as needed between staff and patient (just because you don't feel you need to see me today, doesn't mean I don't need to see you)

- Explore all possibilities of the person's mental health before focusing in on one thing (it will save a lot of time)

- Make psychiatrist meetings more frequent (if its not working its not working)


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Response from Patient Experience Team, Patient Experience Manager, Quality and Patient Safety, South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group

picture of Patient Experience Team

Dear musicn0tmayhem

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and I am sorry these have not all been positive. Your post highlights a number of issues which we would like to understand further to enable us to learn from your experiences. If you felt able, I would really welcome the opportunity to meet with you. If you felt able to do this, you can contact the Patient Experience Team here at South Devon and Torbay CCG and I would be pleased to speak to you, our telephone number is 01803 652 578 or you can email: patientfeedback.sdtccg@nhs.net.

I understand that you may not wish to do this, so would like to let you know that as a CCG we are in the process of reviewing the eating disorders service across our areas; as well as continuing to work with Child and Adolescent Mental Health services to ensure that high quality care is received by people living in Torbay and South Devon. Your comments are really helpful to us and will be fed into the work we are doing.

Once again, thank you for providing your feedback.

Kind Regards


Patient Experience Manager

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