CAMHS is used as a term for all services that work with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional or behavioural wellbeing.
Local areas have a number of different support services available.
These might be from the statutory, voluntary or school-based sector, such as an NHS trust, local authority, school or charitable organisation.
Children and young people may need help with a wide range of issues at different points in their lives.
Parents and carers may also need help and advice to deal with behavioural or other problems their child is experiencing.
Parents, carers and young people can receive direct support through CAMHS.
What are specialist CAMHS?
Specialist CAMHS are NHS mental health services that focus on the needs of children and young people.
They're multidisciplinary teams that often consist of:
- social workers
- support workers
- occupational therapists
- psychological therapists – this may include child psychotherapists, family psychotherapists, play therapists and creative art therapists
- primary mental health link workers
- specialist substance misuse workers
How do I get help from specialist CAMHS?
Getting help from a specialist CAMHS service is different depending on where you live. Waiting times can vary, too.
Most CAHMS have their own website, which will have information about access, referrals and more, including phone numbers, so you can get in touch directly for detailed advice.
You may also find it helpful to speak to:
- your GP
- someone you trust at school or college – for example, a teacher, pastoral lead, school nurse or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)
- health visitors
- children's centres
If you or your child is being supported by social services or the youth offending team, your key worker will be able to refer your child for an appointment with someone in specialist CAMHS.
There are many services you can go to for help without having to ask for a referral.
- Look up services that provide mental health support for young people on this site.
- Community-based youth information services often have drop-in sessions where you can get advice and professional help.
When is the transition from specialist CAMHS to adult services?
The age children and young people move to another service can differ. For example, some transition at 16, others at 18 or older.
Transition between services can be a scary time for young people as the teams they know and are used to working with change.
It's important everyone involved understands the process and feels supported and prepared to try to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
Your CAMHS team should work closely with you to support the transition.
For example, you could have a joint meeting with your current team and the new adult mental health services.
The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families website has information about moving on from CAMHS.
A lot of organisations have helpful information about what CAMHS services offer.
- The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families uses video interviews to explain what CAMHS is.
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists website has material about who's who in CAMHS, with information for parents, teachers, young people and anyone who works with young people.
- MindEd provides e-sessions on counselling and specialist CAMHS aimed at trainee and practising counsellors.
Page last reviewed: 3 April 2019
Next review due: 3 April 2022