In addition to its daily provision of services, Bendigo Health’s child and adolescent mental health service participates in a fortnightly clinic, run in partnership with local paediatricians to treat and care for children aged 0–12 years who have been referred with significant mental health difficulties.
Dr Liam O’Connor, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Bendigo Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, said the clinic has been running for four years and was set up as a means of bringing child psychiatrists, child and adolescent mental health service clinicians and local paediatricians together.
Many children with behavioural and emotional difficulties are seen initially by paediatricians—and so the interaction between psychiatrists, mental health clinicians and paediatricians is incredibly important. It is vital to explore ways of working together, discussing complex cases and increasing mutual understanding.
Dr O’Connor said the focus of the fortnightly clinic is on children with complex issues, usually a combination of physical and mental health concerns. Once a month a paediatrician and child psychiatrist meet with child and adolescent mental health services clinicians for case discussion.
In [the child and adolescent mental health services], we try to work out how best to manage each referral when it comes in—those selected for the clinic are usually ones where there is a mixture of physical and mental health issues.
Dr O’Connor noted that the clinic includes a paediatrician and a child and adolescent mental health services child psychiatrist.
The two specialists conduct the assessment with the child and family together. While the majority of work involves initial assessment of newly referred children the clinic also offers secondary consultation with ongoing [child and adolescent mental health services] cases.
Having both a paediatrician and a child psychiatrist in the same room is a valuable experience for young people and their families.
Dr O’Connor said the clinic was developed to deliver better services for the region.
We need to be inventive to best meet the mental health needs of children in our region. The clinic is a Bendigo initiative based on local resources and need. It is one of a number of ways in which paediatricians and [child and adolescent mental health services] clinicians meet together to increase mutual understanding and quality of care.
In addition to the fortnightly clinic, child and adolescent mental health services staff meet with paediatricians for liaison and coordination between lead clinicians, psychiatrists and paediatric staff (paediatricians, registrars and allied health) for individual children and young people. There is also a six‑weekly liaison meeting for case discussion and education.
Bendigo child and adolescent mental health service clinicians also attend care team meetings with paediatric inpatient ward staff, support development of safety plans and provide professional development and information sessions as needed.
Source: RCVMHS, Interview with Dr Liam O’Connor, October 2020; Bendigo Health, ‘Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)’, [accessed 14 October 2020].