Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Eating Disorder Service

Information for young people

Transition to adult services

When you are nearly 18, you may need to have a transition to the adult eating disorder service where you will have a more adult-focussed treatment.

We start preparing for this in the 6 months before you turn 18 and aim to make the transition as smooth as possible. A clinician from the adult service will join a review to explain the options for treatment in the adult service.

At a later stage, they may offer up to four transition sessions so that they can get to know you and consider what is going to help. Your worker from CAMHS may attend one of these sessions with you, and parents are also encouraged to attend one or two of these sessions if you are happy with this.

At the end of the four sessions you will work out with your clinician the best way forward for continuing treatment after you are 18 (if this is needed).

Here a young person who transitioned in February 2018 share their thoughts:

6th February 2019

Dear young person transitioning into adult services,

It’s scary. Not knowing who you will be seeing, how often… or whether it will be helpful or unhelpful when transitioning. You go from the usual support you receive from CAMHS, to the uncertainty around ‘adult services’ that you may have heard rumours about. From my experience, you don’t know unless you don’t try.

I was worried when transitioning to adult services. I had heard the transition between CAMHS and adult services is a ‘big jump’ and really difficult to cope with. Knowing this alongside doing my A levels in sixth form, it gave me a lot of pressure to cope with and I became ever more anxious as I was reaching my 18th birthday.

After some improvements to transitions that have been implemented, it is encouraged that someone from adult services will visit you in CAMHS sessions several times before you transitioned. In general, the purpose of these meetings is to allow your transition to be smoother, whilst lessening the anxiety of getting to know new workers.

For me, this reassured me and put me at ease for what was to come. It was really useful to speak to someone beforehand to discuss what treatment they could provide me. My best advice would be to prepare some questions you would like to know in advance, perhaps discussing with your current therapist, to make sure these are answered and the anxiety of meeting a new person does not stop you from asking what you want to know. Also top tip – ask for direct contact details for your new key worker at adult services, to save you from the anxiety of having to phone up generally.

Remind yourself that this is your transition, and should be focussed around your needs. Take time to consider whether adult services is right for you, rather than professionals or parents deciding for you. It is important you get your voice heard. A fear I had was that I would ‘disappoint’ myself if I went – after having been with CAMHS for 5+ years surely I should be ‘better’ by now? Yet after having conversations with my parents and team, eventually I made an informed judgement that transitioning with adult services was necessary. Ultimately, it is your choice whether you transition, and you should feel supported with your decision either way.

It’s ok to feel anxious about your first appointment at adult services – I know I did. I didn’t know what to say, how to start the initial conversation or whether I would bond with my new therapist. I remember sitting in the waiting room twiddling my fingers, waiting to be called for my first appointment. Fortunately, for me I was lucky in getting a new therapist that I bonded with within a few sessions. I have a really good relationship with her and it’s working really well! If I had not transitioned to adult services, I wouldn’t have the support that I have now which I am so grateful for.

Yet I do agree with the ‘big jump’ between services, but there is some preparation in place to support your transition. The main difference or ‘jump’ I felt between CAMHS and adult services was the shift in responsibility. As a young adult, you are responsible for taking action in your own recovery, rather than your parents. You learn that no one can do recovery for you. However, adult services provide the encouragement to flourish for recovery, and acknowledge that support from your parents is still very much what you are used to. If you want to, most adult services allow your parents to be involved too, which I found really helpful, but this is entirely your choice to make.

I have written this letter as I would have found it useful to read when I was transitioning between services. I didn’t know of many ‘positive experiences’ on transitioning and had little to go by in terms of whether I thought adult services would be useful or not. I wanted to know that I was not alone in the stress that I was facing with my mental health, education and transition. There are always people out there to support you, it is just about finding the right people.

It is absolutely OK to ask for help from adult services, and the day you turn 18 does not change that. So yes, the transition is scary, but you are not alone and you will get through it. 

Last updated: 11 March, 2019