The Child and Adolescent Mental Health team work in the Mildred Creak Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). This is an inpatient psychiatric unit which treats children and young people with emotional difficulties and mental health problems, such as anorexia nervosa and complex psychosomatic conditions.
Although the unit is open seven days a week, most children return home at weekends.
The unit is supported by a team of nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, teachers and administrative staff.
Mildred Creak is part of the Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (DCAMHS), which also provides outpatient services through the Feeding and Eating Disorders team, the Centre for Interventional Paediatric Psychopharmacology (CIPP) and Social and Communications Disorders.
Rachel, Band 6 Staff Nurse
Rachel qualified as a mental health nurse and only discovered that GOSH had a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit while searching online for jobs.
Do you have to have specialist qualifications to work here?
You don't have to be a mental health nurse but you do have to have an interest. Some psychiatric experience is preferable.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy working under the therapeutic milieu model. Also it's a nice age group (seven to 14 year olds) and we work with younger children in a playful way. We also work with adolescents so there's a good deal of variety.
What type of patients do you see?
We treat any child with a mental health problem that affects daily living to the extent that they need an inpatient admission for example, children with eating disorders, conversion disorders or somatic disorders.
How long do they tend to stay?
The average length of admission is between four and 12 months.
Is it upsetting to work with children with mental health problems?
It's a very rewarding place to work - there's nothing better than seeing a child getting better. We're lucky there's a very supportive team. We work within a culture of openness and sharing and there are lots of mechanisms for support. It is emotionally challenging and you have to be robust and self-aware.
The children follow a timetable and therefore the nurses follow a timetable. We're contained by the structure. There's orderliness.
Would you encourage others to work here?
Yes. Our rota is slightly different to other units – we work early and late shifts, plus one weekend and a few nights. The children respond well to a change of staff.
What sort of person would it suit?
We make a difference in a therapeutic way and that requires creativity, enthusiasm and spontaneity. It is a hopeful place but at times sad and painful.
What would you say to someone considering applying?
Call us for a chat and meet the team.