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Five quick tips to ensure better care for children with mental health problems

1. Build up a relationship with CAMHS Get to know your local CAMHS – Being familiar with each other’s names can transform your working relationship. If you can then agree on what to expect from each other, you are in a much better place.

2. Highlight potential risks in the referral If necessary, include safeguarding issues, demographic, personal and environmental risk factors and red flags in the referral. Having simple tools embedded into your practice IT system that can generate effective referrals would really help – such tools do exist.

3. If a referral is ‘bounced’, find out why Hopefully once you have built a sound working relationship with CAMHS, a referral that is returned will no longer feels like a ‘bounce’. But if it happens, make a call or send an email so that three things happen:

  • You’re clear on the reason for a return
  • All parties learn from the situation
  • A plan is put in place to mitigate risk.

4. Record concerns A full record is essential to good management. You should record examples of suicidality, self-harm and all the triggers you discover, alongside how you mitigate risk with your patient.

5. Work together to improve the process If you are concerned about the referrals process, get round the table with CAMHS, talk it through and resolve it together. Consider involving your local commissioners.

Dr Peter Ilves is a GP in south-west London. He is primary care lead and associate director for Connecting with People and primary care lead for complex mental health placements at NHS Wandsworth CCG