Judge joins CAMHS as notice party to explain why a child on priority list for over 18 months had not received any service – 2024vol1#58

A judge in a rural court listed the case of a primary school child to be brought back before him to ascertain if the child had received an appointment to be seen by the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS). The lawyer for the child’s father informed the judge that the child had still not received an appointment for CAMHS despite being on their priority list for more than 18 months.

The judge decided to join CAMHS as a notice party to the case. He requested the lawyer for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) to write to CAMHS to inform them that he was most dissatisfied with the lack of progress. He was seeking clarification as to whether the child would ever receive an appointment to be seen or given a service.

He directed that CAMHS should provide the name of a representative, who would come to court and explain their difficulty with carrying out their statutory duty and responsibilities. Failing this, the judge said he would be issuing a summons. He stressed the importance of CAMHS providing the name of a person who could attend court on their behalf, or else he would have to issue multiple summonses.

The judge listed the matter for a date four weeks later.

When the case came before the court four weeks later to ascertain if the child had been given an appointment by CAMHS the lawyer for the CFA informed the judge that CAMHS had arranged an appointment with the child and foster parents. The child had been unable to attend on the appointed day but her foster parents had attended. The lawyer for the child’s guardian ad litem (GAL) told the court that the foster parents had a very positive experience with the CAMHS psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist had prescribed sertraline (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drug usually prescribed for depression in adults) for the child, who had agreed to take the medication. The judge said that the child would need to take a low dose of the medication at the outset as it was an anti-anxiety drug. CAMHS had offered the services of a psychotherapist and psychiatrist.

The lawyer for the CFA confirmed that the child was now in receipt of a service from CAMHS. The lawyer for the GAL said that the child had already bought herself some new clothes, which she has planned to wear as soon as she felt better.

The judge listed the matter for review on a date eight weeks later.