Child mental health investigation: Big change to Oxfordshire service launches next month

Oxford Health NNL-180622-151316001
Oxford Health NNL-180622-151316001

For the fifth part of a special Banbury Guardian investigation, we invited Oxford Health to outline its response to soaring demand for its CAMHS service.

A decade ago, having an open discussion about your mental health was something a lot of people would have struggled with, particularly for young people. It is fair to say there was a general lack of understanding from the wider community and some of the issues that are widely acknowledged and accepted today still had negative connotations and stigmas attached to them.

However, over the past decade there’s been a real breakdown of some of the stigmas around mental health issues, as we’ve seen – particularly among young people – the rise of social media as a platform for many to openly talk about their conditions and engage with others in a similar situation.

As a result of this, there has been an increase in the numbers of people coming into contact with our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at Oxford Health, and in the last six years alone we’ve seen referrals in Oxfordshire rising from 3,756 in 2012 to 6,794 in 2017.

In 2014 the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) conducted a review of CAMHS with Oxford Health and our local stakeholders, which was followed in 2015 by the national review of CAMHS, Future in Mind, both of which set out new and innovative models of CAMHS provisions.

Off the back of these reviews we’ve had to look at how we provide mental healthcare for children and young people and examine whether we are doing things in the right way, prompting us to implement our new model which officially launches in July (2018).

The new model will, for the first time, allow young people, their parents or carers, to make direct contact with our service to talk to us about the issues affecting them rather than relying on professionals such as GPs or accessing via their children’s schools.

Our new Single Point of Access (SPA) Team will then be able to review the information and decide on what the best course of action is.

For some, this might be signposting them to some support materials or perhaps putting the young person into contact with one of our new charity partners or an alternative provision.

For others, it might be that they may need to see one of our CAMHS clinicians to talk a bit more about the issues affecting them, in which case a follow-up meeting will be arranged and a plan put in place to provide the appropriate level of care for that young person.

Getting in touch with our services is now easier than ever before and people can either contact us via our new single number that covers the whole of the county – 01865 902515 – or by visiting our new Oxfordshire CAMHS website and contacting us online –

As well as contacting us, the new website also provides access to a range of information and materials for young people to support them.

The decision to allow young people and their parents or carers to make direct contact with our services, is so that we can remove some of the barriers that have hindered help from being provided as soon as possible.

We want anyone who is feeling like they might need to speak to someone to come to us as soon as possible and speak with us, because the sooner they do then the sooner we can get them the help they need and get them back on the road to feeling like themselves again.