"Not a typical CAMHS worker"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – Community(City)

(as a service user),

Keith Sykes is not a typical CAMHS worker. I met him in 2012, as I was discharged from a mental health unit. I had been hospitalised for anxiety and depression, and was at high risk of suicide. I was still very ill. I hated myself, and I hated life. Also, after having previous bad experiences with CAMHS and doctors, I was reluctant to trust any health care professional. Gradually however, this began to change.

Keith saw me three times a week to start with. He didn't have to see me this regularly, he could have been doing paperwork, or gone home, but he didn't. This extra support allowed me to stay at home, and not get re-admitted. He had a way of getting me to talk. He didn't pressurise me, but he listened. He wrote all of his notes up afterwards, which took longer, but meant he could really listen to me. After I started talking, I couldn't stop. He never told me time was up, we just talked as long as I needed.

He didn't just listen; he taught me how to live again, how to have fun. Something I didn't even realise I had forgotten. We did art, throwing paint everywhere, I remember one time he let me stand in the paint and walk around on paper to signify my journey to recovery. Another time he pushed me around on a wheelie chair. We played games and made up stories. Slowly, life started to come back.

He was always there for me. All the young people he sees can text him any time, and he will get back to them within 24 hours. I can still text him now, when things get tough. He does not work 9-5, but goes above and beyond, when no one else is there. He stopped me self harming lots of times over text, and one night managed to stop me jumping off a bridge by calling my parents, and staying on the phone until they came. Another time, I was in school, writing a suicide note. I managed to text him, and he and mum came to pick me up and take me to hospital. He stayed with us for 4 hours, making sure I was OK.

As I recovered he has encouraged me to help other people like me. he got my book of poems about mental health published to raise awareness, and helped me write to Ed Milliband about the issue. Keith even came down to London with me and Dad to have a meeting with him.

Last week I turned 18. A milestone I couldn't have reached without Keith. He has taught me that life is good, that I can change the world, and that I can be a strong independent adult. When I think back to how ill I was, and the way that things could have turned out, I feel incredibly lucky to have had support from Keith, and he deserves recognition for his fantastic work.

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Response from Samantha Sykes, CAMHS Operational Manager / Clinical Nurse Specialist, Head 2 Head Team., Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Samantha Sykes

EmAnne its really heartening to hear your story and to know about the good experience that you have received from CAMHS through your worker. I wish you all the best for the future now you have turned 18 and it sounds like your life is good. Good Luck with changing your world and everything that you do.

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Response from Keith Sykes, Team Leader, Thorneywood Intensive Interventions team, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust

Hi Emily, I'm pleased I was able to offer you the support you needed and deserved. The journey we took together was interesting with happy bits, sad bits, and some annoying bits (mainly me being annoying). The credit for your success is down to the hard work you put in, it was not always an easy journey, but it is one I am glad I was able to accompany you on.

You are an incredible young person and an inspiration to others. I hope other young people will read your story and find inspiration to help them complete their journey. It is a pleasure knowing you.

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