Navigating mental health support in East Sussex: East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

Navigating mental health support in East Sussex: East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service


Between April and May 2015, Healthwatch East Sussex investigated access to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for children, young people, their carer’s and other relevant organisations.

The aim of the work was to seek the views, good and bad, of children and young people using the East Sussex CAMHS, and to identify any problems they may have had in accessing the service. Information was also sought from carers and from organisations that support young people and their carers related to mental health needs.

Young people told us their experiences included:

  • the journey is very difficult, but it’s good when you get there
  • excellent support
  • their concerns and issues were excellently tackled
  • sessions with staff were great
  • a wish to be kept more informed and involved in their care and support; and
  • waiting times could be improved.

The work highlighted the following key recommendations for East Sussex CAMHS to consider:

What can be done to improve the waiting times

19 of 43 people stated that they had experienced no delays in obtaining a service; however other examples included waiting times of up to 6 months.

Review engagement with young people

Keeping young people informed and involved in their care and support, including an explanation why support may not occur as originally intended. One young person described how when doing art therapy, they were not given a reason for doing it, or an explanation at the end what it had achieved. This left the young person thinking it was pointless.

Director of Healthwatch East Sussex, Julie Fitzgerald said,

 “Child and Adolescent Mental health Services are a crucial support for many of our young residents and their families. Healthwatch East Sussex was pleased to read the recent Care Quality Commission report rating the East Sussex service as “outstanding” for caring and “good” for well led. Combining this with our own data gathered from service users, the Trust has some excellent recommendations to consider in developing the service”.

Response from the Trust:

We welcome this report from East Sussex Healthwatch, we are delighted that there are a number of areas where those who have used our services have had positive experiences.

The report highlights the recent CQC inspection report and we are pleased to report the services being rated as “outstanding” for Caring and “good” for well led.

 This report picks up a number of themes which are reflected in the CQC report and where we are required to improve which are included in our action plan. We will therefore use our current CQC action plan to address the issues raised.”

The full report and the response from the Trust can be found on our website:



About Healthwatch East Sussex

 East Sussex Community Voice (CIC) is commissioned by East Sussex County Council to deliver Healthwatch East Sussex, which is your independent local consumer champion for health and care services.

This means that we:

  • Gather views and understanding the experiences of patients and the public
  • Make peoples’ views known
  • Promote and support the involvement of people in the commissioning and provision of local care services and how they are scrutinized
  • Recommend investigation or special review of services via Healthwatch England or directly to the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • Provide advice and information about services and support for making informed choices; and
  • Make the views and experiences of people known to Healthwatch England and providing a steer to help it carry out its role as national champion.

In summary Healthwatch East Sussex will act as the Consumer Voice for health and social care in East Sussex.