What is CAMHS?

CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

CAMHS is the name for the NHS services that assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

CAMHS support covers depressionproblems with foodself-harmabuse, violence or angerbipolar disorderschizophrenia and anxiety, among other difficulties.

There are local NHS CAMHS services around the UK, with teams made up of nursestherapistspsychologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists (medical doctors specialising in mental health), support workers and social workers, as well as other professionals.

How do I get help from CAMHS?

The first step to getting help from CAMHS is usually that you will be referred for a CAMHS assessment. This referral can come from your parents/carers, a teacher, GP, or yourself if you are old enough (depending on where you live).

If you're being supported by social care, a youth offending team, or a service at your school, they might also be able to refer you.

It's important to tell the person referring you as much as you can so you can get the help you need.

Most local CAMHS teams have a website where you can look up how to get access to their service.

What is a CAMHS assessment and what happens at one?

After you have been referred, you will be put on a waiting list for an initial appointment (often known as an ‘assessment’). This may sound scary, but it’s normally just a chat so the CAMHS team can get to know you a bit and see how they can help.

At this appointment, you will normally meet one or two members of the CAMHS team. If you’re under 16 years old, your parent(s) or carer(s) will usually be invited to join for part of this meeting.

This appointment will generally take place at a CAMHS clinic. But, in some circumstances, they may meet with you at your school or home. They will discuss with you the best place to meet before your appointment.

When you meet, the team will ask you questions to understand what you are struggling with and to get a better idea of what support you need. Here are some common questions they may ask:

  • What has brought you to CAMHS?

  • How long have you experienced the problem that has brought you to CAMHS?

  • What would you like to change in your life? What might help tackle the problems you are experiencing?

  • How have you been feeling recently?

  • What’s life at home like?

  • What’s life at school like?

At the end of the session, the team will talk to you about what happens next and what support they think you might need. You can also ask any questions you may have.

They may talk about your ‘treatment’ – this just means what you’ll do together to help you get better.

If you would feel more comfortable having a parent or carer in the room with you during your assessment, that’s fine. You can also see the team by yourself if you would prefer, though staff may expect a parent to be present for part of the meeting.

Also, if you or your parent/carer is not confident speaking English, CAMHS can provide an interpreter to help. Just let them know if this is the case.

Questions to ask at a CAMHS assessment

Your CAMHS assessment is a great opportunity to ask any questions you have. Here are some questions you may want to think about asking:

  • How long will I have to wait for treatment?

  • What help can I get straight away?

  • Can you recommend any local charities that help young people?

  • Who do I call if I have a mental health emergency? Is there a 24-hour phone number?

  • If I get talking therapy, how many sessions will I get?

  • Is my GP still involved in my care?

  • What can I do to help myself?

It’s important at your CAMHS assessment to try and be as honest as possible, as this will help the team assessing you understand how to support you.

Here are some things that are helpful for you to tell them:

  • when your problems started

  • what you’d like to change

  • if there's a pattern in the problems (keeping a diary or log book before your assessment be really helpful to show this)

  • any difficulties in school or with friends

  • any general health problems, either now or in the past

  • any big family events or issues like divorce or bereavement

  • any recent or past trauma, e.g. emotional, sexual or physical abuse

  • other services you've had help from, like social care, hospital or private treatments

Does CAMHS help parents/carers?

Most CAMHS services work with the whole family to support a young person's health.

This might mean asking parents/carers to come along to assessment and treatment appointments, depending on your age and what level of involvement you want your parent(s)/carer(s) to have.

Questions for parents/carers

Parents and carers can also ask CAMHS staff questions at any point in the assessment or treatment. You or your parents may want to know:

  • What can parents and family members do to help?

  • How can I keep my child safe at home?

  • Are there strategies I can use when they are distressed?

  • Is there a diagnosis?

  • What kind of help is available from the NHS?

  • What if my child needs a lot of help?

  • Can I get financial support as a carer?

  • Who is my child's key worker or care coordinator?

  • How does the treatment work?

  • Will there be treatment sessions involving the family? Could we have family therapy?

  • Can you recommend any groups or charities for parents?

  • Can I still be involved if my child transitions to adult services?

  • What are the rules about confidentiality?

  • What if my teenager can't get help from adult mental health services?


What does the Children and Young People Service (CYPS) do?

We offer services for children and young people (and their families/carers) up to their 18th birthday who are experiencing mental health and emotional wellbeing difficulties. The child or young person should be registered with a Gloucestershire GP. We also provide services for children and young people who have health issues related to a moderate to severe learning disability.

In addition, we offer specialist consultation and training to a range of practitioners so children and young people can access early help, support and advice within their local communities to help improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Who can refer to CYPS?

Referrals can be made by any practitioner working with children, young people and their families/carers.

When should I make a referral to CYPS?

• Where presenting symptoms (at the point of referral) suggest the likelihood of moderate or severe emotional and mental health problems. These problems are likely to be persistent in nature and will be significantly impacting upon daily functioning

• Where interventions have already been delivered by other practitioners, (i.e. school nurse or counsellor but specialist mental health input still appears to be appropriate

• Where clinical risk/self-harming behaviours have escalated to moderate or high levels

• Where there is a complex, co-morbid presentation that would benefit from a coordinated multi disciplinary team assessment or package of intervention

• Where there is a sudden and/or escalating change of behaviour that is hard to understand and may be indicative of emotional or mental health deterioration or unknown trauma, i.e. sudden onset psychosis.

CYPS will typically respond to referrals in three ways

Option 1: Advice and signposting support.

Where it is beneficial to explore what options of mental health support are available in their own community, the referrer will receive a letter outlining local support and other self-help ideas for the child or young person. We may also contact the referrer directly to gain more information or offer consultation and advice.

Option 2: Level 2/PMHW consultation to schools/multi-agency professionals.

Where the referrer has concerns about mental health issues, please ring the CYPS Practitioner Advice Line (01452 894272) to talk through next steps. For schools, it may be appropriate for the school to link with their CYPS Primary Mental Health Worker (PMHW) to set up a network meeting to discuss options for support.

Option 3: Further CYPS assessment
Where the referral is accepted, the child or young person will be offered a CYPS

specialist mental health assessment within one of our locality bases. We call this a CHOICE appointment.

What mental health difficulties can CYPS typically help with?

• Anxiety disorders (including phobias, OCD, and PTSD)

• Emotional and mental health disorder secondary to abusive or traumatic experiences

• Psychosis

• Depressive disorders

• Eating disorders

• Deliberate self-harm and suicide ideation/intent

• Pre-school mental health problems

• Neuro-developmental disorders, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette’s Syndrome and complex tic disorders

• Moderate or severe emotional and mental health disorder associated with physical health problems and somatoform disorders

• Moderate or severe emotional and mental health problems associated with ADHD or Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for those of secondary school age.

What information should a referral include?

• The name and contact details for the child and their family

• School information (to include year group and any support already being offered)

• What support/interventions have already been tried?

• What is the child/young person/ family mainly concerned about?

• What kind of help is the child/young person/family looking for?

• Consider how likely the family is to engage with CYPS and whether additional
support from the referrer is needed to assist this

• Details of other agencies involved • Any safeguarding concerns.