"Not a typical CAMHS worker"
About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – Community(City) Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – Community(City) Nottingham NG3 6AA
Posted by EmAnne (as ),
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.