Service improvement and research: Innovation and new challenges in CAMHS


Event type Half Day

Online via Zoom webinar
09:00 - 12:45 UK

teen with psychologist

This online event, organised by the ACAMH Southern Branch, will showcase the innovative models of care in the region featuring neurodevelopmental conditions and mental health difficulties in children and young people. It will highlight the importance, and need, for timely diagnostic assessments, pre and post diagnostic support for families, and the impact of the same on improving the emotional wellbeing and quality of the patient journey through the system.

Who should attend

Anyone working with children and young people with a special interest in neurodevelopmental conditions (Autism Spectrum Conditions, ADHD and associated mental health difficulties/mental illnesses). It is appropriate for clinicians in mental and physical health settings, and those working in education, social care, and youth-based services.

Prices and booking

£10 – ACAMH Membership 
£15 – Non-Members

To book simply click the button at the top of the page, or this link (BOOKINGS NOW CLOSED), and fill in the details. ACAMH Members should sign in first to ensure that they get their discount. Recording of the sessions will be available to delegates for 28 days after the event. Please note these recordings are for the delegate only due to copyright and cannot be shared.

If you are not an ACAMH Member now is a great time to join and make a saving on this event. Take a look at the different levels of membership on offer.

About the talks

Dr. Asha Gowda ‘ND pilot project Portsmouth treatment’

This talk will provide an overview of a pilot study looking at the viability of a psycho-educational approach in understanding and supporting the needs of children and young people with neurodiversity.

Learning points

  1. To understand the importance of recognising neurodiversity
  2. To identify ways of supporting neurodiversity in different environments
  3. Managing increasing wait times in neurodevelopmental assessment services

Dr. Kasia Kostyrka-Allchorne ‘STEPS: A Digital Health Intervention for Reducing Childhood Behaviour Problems’

Timely access to parenting interventions is limited for many families in need, as it is typically delivered face-to-face either in small groups or on a one-to-one basis, which is costly to provide and time-consuming to organise. Mobile phone apps have the potential to widen the dissemination of evidence-based interventions and to bridge the gap between demand for access and the supply of services for families. However, the evidence for the benefits of digital health interventions, especially in the context of child behaviour, is very limited.

In this talk, I will present an overview of STEPS, a mobile phone app delivering digital health intervention for parents of children aged 5-11 who present to services with challenging behaviour. I will describe the plans for its evaluation using rigorous methods in the OPTIMA (Online Parent Training for the Initial Management of ADHD Referral) trial and review the results of the recent feasibility study conducted in preparation for this trial. I will also provide initial feedback on the app from parents and discuss the opportunities and challenges of developing and testing digital health interventions for childhood behaviour problems.

Learning points

  1. To recognise potential barriers to accessing evidence-based parenting interventions.
  2. To understand the advantages of digital parenting support.
  3. To recognise the challenges of evaluating digital parenting interventions.

Dr. Hayley Rajpal ‘Exploring the experiences of care networks providing therapeutic support to Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Minors’

Complexities limiting therapeutic engagement with unaccompanied minors prompted a qualitative study into how these young people’s needs were attended to by their care networks. Using an overarching Psychoanalytic framework, Hayley collected data from support groups offered to foster carers, and semi-structed interviews held with a variety of professionals. The aim was to highlight complexities and difficulties within these relationships, whilst at the same time enhancing understanding of the intricacies of their interactions, including their positive experiences.

The talk will outline the findings from this study and recommendations for improved service provision and clinical practice. In brief, the findings highlighted that one of the greatest challenges was identifying and remaining in touch with a young person’s needs when there were significant traumas and multiple layers of deprivation to contend with. When faced with multiple uncertainties and unknowns fear and mistrust was instigated. Caution of what might be internalised or enlivened within relationships resulted in the need to distance oneself from a young person. In addition, difference and diversity had an impact upon the ability and availability to offer care which it is argued became laced with unconscious animosity and institutional racism which was perpetuated within the system.

Learning points

  1. To have a better understanding of the challenges that professional networks can face when working with unaccompanied young people.
  2. To have an increased awareness of what can hinder theraputic support offered to unaccompanied young people.
  3. To open up thinking and exploration of our own unconscious and conscious bias and how this can impact our work.


09:00 Online room opens for networking via the Chat facility
09:15 Welcome and Introductions
09:20 Dr. Asha Gowda & Zach Dunn ‘ND pilot project Portsmouth treatment’
10:15 Dr. Kasia Kostyrka-Allchorne ‘STEPS: A Digital Health Intervention for Reducing Childhood Behaviour Problems’
11:05 Break
11:20 Dr. Hayley Rajpal ‘Exploring the experiences of care networks providing therapeutic support to Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Minors’
12:10 – 12:40 Reflection/questions
12:40 – 12:45 Dr. Asha Gowda Final comments/Close

About the speakers

Dr. Kasia Kostyrka-Allchorne

Dr. Kasia Kostyrka-Allchorne

Kasia is a developmental psychologist interested in researching digital interventions that use mobile phone technology to provide low-cost and scalable support for parents of young children both in the community and within child and adolescent mental health services, as well as for other user groups (e.g., teachers). She is also working on developing a better understanding of the mechanisms that underpin the associations between childhood and adolescent psychopathology and digital engagement. Finally, Kasia’s research concerns developing a better understanding of the processes that underpin decision-making and goal-directed behaviour in adolescence. Specifically, what is the role of future-oriented thinking and its variations related to adolescent mental health?

Dr. Hayley Rajpal
Dr. Hayley Rajpal

Dr. Hayley Rajpal
Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
Dr Hayley Rajpal qualified as a Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Whilst studying and since qualifying Hayley has worked in various CAMHS teams within the Southwest. She now works for Sussex Partnership Trust in Eastleigh and has a private practice in Southampton and Salisbury. Hayley’s specialism and main interests lie in working with looked after children and their networks. This contributed to the focus of her thesis research which explored the challenges of therapeutic engagement with unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors.

Dr. Asha Gowda
Dr. Asha Gowda

Asha is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Portsmouth. She has worked in the field of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for more than a decade. She is the Lead Psychiatrist and clinician in the service. Asha is passionate about working with children with neurodevelopmental differences and is the lead for the Neurodevelopmental Disorders pathway in Portsmouth. She actively collaborates with the local authority, parent representatives, paediatricians and education in supporting the needs of these individuals. In recognition of her work, Asha was granted Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2019.

Zach Dunn
Zach Dunn is an Assistant Psychologist at Solent NHS Trust CAMHS in Portsmouth. His current work focuses specifically on the development of a holistic individualised Neurodiversity Approach for children, parents, and educational professionals. Previous work included the effects of exercise on trauma related stress, Alzheimer’s and ASD clinical drug trials, and effect of depression on prospective memory.