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Introducing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

  • Date published:

  • Author: leighanjohnson

Many young people experience difficulties from time to time and can access support through friends and family or services such as their GP, school nurse, school counsellors, on-line counselling (such as Kooth) or mental health support teams in schools.

What does Specialist CAMHS help with?

When mental health difficulties are going on for some time and are impacting on all aspects of life such as education, home life, hobbies and interests, socialising and having fun, it may be that young people would benefit with getting help from a specialist service.

Examples of mental health difficulties that CAMHS supports young people with include:


It is important to know that we can all experience tough times and this can cause our mental health to suffer. CAMHS works with young people, their families and other important organisations (such as schools) to achieve the following:

  • Assess and diagnose mental health and neurodevelopmental difficulties
  • Identify realistic goals or changes that your child would like to make
  • Identify and build on their strengths
  • Learn emotional coping techniques to help manage difficult or upsetting thoughts, feelings, urges or experiences
  • Empower your child to identify, express and communicate their needs, take responsibility for their health and wellbeing and feel confident in knowing where and how to get additional support if necessary
  • Use evidence-based approaches to treat or help your child better manage your difficulties. This can include approaches such as cognitive behaviour therapy, systemic family therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, dialectical behaviour therapy etc…  and/or medication.


CAMHS is made up of a number of specialist teams, who work with children, young people and their families in the community. Appointments are usually at one of the team bases but can sometimes be virtual or at your home or school.

Sometimes young people are struggling so much with their mental health that they need to be cared for, for a short period of time, in hospital for further support and this is known as an adolescent inpatient unit. Specialist CAMHS has a 15 bedded inpatient unit called the Beacon.


Other services within CAMHS include:

and more.


My child has been referred to CAMHS, what should I expect?

CAMHS support is different depending on your child’s needs. For example, your child might only need a one-off appointment or assessment, or your child might need ongoing care until you feel better and safe. Most of the time, your will be added to a waiting list for an initial assessment where these needs will be considered. Although this might sound concerning, it’s just a chat so that the team can get to know your child and make sure they get the right support. It’s also a good chance for your child to ask any questions.

If your child is under the age of 16, you might be invited to this assessment.

They can work with your child on a one-to-one basis or in a group. It can be helpful to also include family members and to work alongside other people who know you well.


How to access support

There are lots of non-urgent resources and services that can help support both you and your child with their mental health, including Home | ThisMayHelpEvery Mind Matters and more.


If you feel your child needs more help by accessing specialist CAMHS, you will need a referral from a healthcare professional such as a nurse, school nurse or a GP.

A referral will be made if they think that your child’s difficulties require specialist support. If your child is already accessing support from social care or a youth offending team, they might be able to refer your child to CAMHS.

Did you know that you can text a school nurse if you need confidential support in a non-emergency?

Click here for a list of useful non-urgent services.


If you need urgent help for your child’s mental health:

  • You can call the Central Access Point (CAP) on 0808 8003302 who have a 24 hour support line
  • If your child is already being seen by CAMHS and it is in office hours (9-5), call their allocated CAMHS worker
  • Call your GP
  • Call 111