Your guide to CAMHS

A beginner's guide to the NHS's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for young people and parents.

What is CAMHS?

CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. CAMHS are the NHS services that assesses and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

CAMHS support covers depression, problems with food, self-harm, abuse, violence or anger, bipolar, schizophrenia and anxiety, to name a few.

There are local NHS CAMHS services around the UK, with teams made up of nurses, therapists, pyschologists, support workers and social workers, as well as other professionals.

How do I get help from CAMHS?

Someone, usually your parents, teacher, GP, or yourself if old enough, can refer you for an assessment with CAMHS to see what help you could get.

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

Does CAMHS help parents and carers too?

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

This might include coming along to assessment and treatment appointments, depending on the child's age and what level of involvement they want.

How do people move from CAMHS to adult services?

Teenagers will need to move from CAMHS to adult mental health services when they reach a certain age. When it happens depends on where you live, but you should be told at least 6 months in advance.

Transition to adult services is a big change, so it's important to get as much information and support as you can from friends and family. Your CAMHS case worker or care coordinator should create a care plan for you and arrange your transition.

You'll have an assessment with both CAMHS and adult services present to decide what kind of help you can get from the NHS. It's possible that you won't be eligible for the level of care adult services provide, but either way you’ll develop a plan for what happens next.

Make sure you also ask about non-NHS support like local youth counselling, charities or school programmes.

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