What is Forward Thinking Birmingham?

Forward Thinking Birmingham is a partnership established to improve mental health care for 0-25 year olds. But what does that mean for you? As a teenager or young adult you often face many pressures and increased responsibilities. Sometimes this can impact on your mental health. We are here to help you when you need it in a way that suits you.

Five partners have come together to make it easy for you to access the support that is right for you at the right time. To find out more about the partners see the links at the bottom of this page.

You may have come to this website from school, college or university, or maybe your GP has told you about us. If you or someone you know thinks you need some extra support then rest assured you are in the right place. We are here to help young people, like you, and their families to work out difficult thoughts and feelings and equip them with more skills so they can get on better with life.   

Who will I meet and what do they do?

We call your first appointment a ‘choice’ appointment. We are happy to meet you on your own or you can bring a family member or friend if you prefer.  If you bring a parent/carer to your appointment then we would normally speak with them too.

This appointment is your opportunity to talk about what has been going on for you and what you think you want and need to change. For us it is about finding out if the support you need is something we offer or if other services would be better for you.

Kay’s story

Meet Kay, she started using CAMHS (now Forward Thinking Birmingham) when she was 12 years old. At first, she found it hard to open up and tell people about how she was feeling. Sometimes Kay didn’t want to go to her appointments but noticed that she usually felt better after she’d been. Her appointments, taught her techniques that helped her to keep calm when she was feeling stressed and low.   

What happens next?

Everybody is different but here are three examples of different things that could happen next:

  1. We think our services would help you. We will organise for more support to be available to you and talk to you about this.
  2. Other services are better able to meet your needs. We will help you to access these quickly and easily.
  3. Good progress is being made with existing services. We will ask those already involved to continue supporting you.

What if I don’t want to attend my appointment?

It is not unusual to be worried about attending an appointment. You might be worried about what will happen at the appointment, worried about being listened to or even blamed for your problems. But you don’t need to worry – we are all here to help you and will make your appointment as comfortable for you as possible. You will have chance to talk and be listened to and definitely not blamed.

Some people find it helps to talk to the person who referred them, let them know how you feel. You might also want to try talking to someone else you trust, like a parent, friend, teacher, youth worker or school nurse. Tell them what you are worried about. You could also call our Access Centre on 0300 300 0099 if you would prefer to talk to someone who doesn’t know you.

If you really don’t want to attend either ask an adult to contact us and explain the situation or please make contact yourself. It may be possible for a home visit to be organised.

Your ‘Forward Thinking’ support

Your second appointment will often be with a different person to the person you met at your first appointment. This is because we try to match you with the person that seems most suited to supporting you. This person will be called your Core Worker. You will get a chance to meet with your Core Worker regularly.

Sometimes, you and your Core Worker may decide that you need some specific support that is different to what you have done so far and that a different professional can help with.

Here are some of the professionals you might meet:

  • Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medically qualified person who specialises in understanding and working with mental health difficulties. A large part of their work involves identifying what your difficulties are, understanding what may have caused them to develop, and giving you and those involved in your care advice about what may help. Psychiatrists are also able to recommend and prescribe medication.
  • Psychotherapist: Psychotherapists work to help you explore your thoughts, feelings, and ways of relating in order to understand what might be underlying current difficulties.
  • Clinical Psychologist: A clinical psychologist is someone who looks at problems such as unhappiness, worry, aggression or loss of confidence.  This normally involves talking about the problems and exploring how they start as well as looking at the impact they have on you and your family.  A clinical psychologist would help by looking at and working on the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that can be changed in order to make a positive difference.
  • Occupational Therapist: An occupational therapist looks at the effect your difficulties have on the everyday things that are important to you; the things you’d like to do and the things you need to do during a normal day. The occupational therapist then supports you to get back into those activities or to develop the skills you need to take part in them.
  • Mental Health Nurse: Mental health nurses (also called Community Psychiatric Nurses or CPN for short) work with you and your family in a range of settings, such as home, school or at health centres, to support with managing and improving your mental health. They use lots of different ways to support you and will help to find what works best for you. They may work with you for only a short period of time or sometimes their support will be for a longer time period. Some of the nurses you might meet are called clinical nurse specialists (CNS) this means that they have a specialist role within the service.
  • Family Therapist: A family therapist helps people in close relationships to help each other. This can be by exploring difficult thoughts and emotions safely or helping to understand each other’s different experiences and views. A family therapist can also help to build on family strengths to help make useful changes. Sometimes it doesn’t take much support to help a family free up their strengths but other times difficulties are more complex and families may need longer to find solutions that work for them.
  • Primary Mental Health Worker: Primary mental health workers sometimes help with a referral from another doctor or professional (like a teacher) to Forward Thinking Birmingham.  They also provide training and advice to people working in the community about mental health presentations and how to access our services. 
  • Speech and Language Therapist: A speech and language therapist looks at how you are able to communicate and get on with others. The speech and language therapist will help you, your family and teachers to understand and they will support you with any communication difficulties you have.

For more information about mental health services in general, including appointments or interventions and other young people's experiences visit:

My CAMHS Choices

NHS Choices – a guide to mental health services in England