CAMHS: A guide

CAMHS: A guide

This guide will briefly discuss what CAMHS is and how you can get help from CAMHS to ensure your mental wellbeing continues to do better.

We will discuss :

  • What is CAMHS?
  • What do the child and adolescent mental health services deal with?
  • Who is eligible for CAMHS?
  • Who can refer you to CAMHS?
  • Who works at the Child adolescent mental health services
  • What are the roles of the CAMHS staff?
  • Where to find a child and adolescent mental health services location
  • Alternatives to the Child adolescent mental health services
  • How do you move from CAMHS TO AMHS?

What is CAMHS?

CAMHS stands for child and adolescent mental health services.  It is run by the NHS as part of its services for children and its main role is to help children who have emotional, mental or behavioural issues.

This could be simple things such as feeling isolated, not wanting to talk to anyone or more difficult topics such as cutting yourself or wanting to cause harm to other people or things.

The child and adolescent mental health service is a free service where you can get help for these difficult mental wellbeing issues.

CAMHS has various locations around the UK which cover a whole host of mental health issues. The CAMHS locations are staffed with nurses, psychologists, therapists, counsellors, social workers, support workers and other related professionals who may assist the local child and adolescent mental health services team in doing their job effectively.

To get help to CAMHS you will usually have to be referred but if you feel you have no one to talk to or no one you can trust with the issues you are facing you can always approach CAMHS yourself and they will assist you in ensuring they can provide you with the help you need within a legal and ethical framework.

Your meetings can be attended by your parents or guardians. This will depend on how old you are and how involved you want your guardians or parents.

HFNE: CAMHS: A guide

What do the child and adolescent mental health services deal with?

CAMHS deals with a lot of issues but don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the issue you are looking for on this list as it is very likely the local CAMHS team will have someone who is able to assist you or they may be able to refer you to a specialist who can assist you going forward.

CAMHS will be able to assist you with:

  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Anxiety
  • Abuse
  • Violence
  • Anger
  • Bipolar
  • schizophrenia
  • Food-related problems and more

Who is eligible for CAMHS?

As long as you are a child and below the age of 18 you should be able to get help from CAMHS. If you are over 18 then the CAMHS location you approach may be able to assist you in the short term but will then refer you on to the Adult mental health services(AMHS) which is just like CAMHS but for adults.

Who can refer you to CAMHS?

Usually, it will need to be someone in the society who refers you to CAMHS. This could be your parents, sports coaches, friends, teachers, your GP, social care workers or anyone who is concerned about you or feels a visit to CAMHS may assist your mental wellbeing.

The social care team, counsellor or a youth offending team may also refer you to CAMHS to help you better your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Tell the person who is referring to you as much as you can so they can give as much information to CAMHS which will benefit you.

If you are concerned about the process you can always look on their website or speak to the person who is referring you to understand how the process works and what you can expect to gain out of it.


Who works at the Child adolescent mental health services?

The Child adolescent mental health services have a wide array of talent who help all the children who come in to see them.  The child and adolescent mental health services staff are very experienced and knowledgable with working with children and young adults so feel free to ask them as many questions as you may have in regards to what you may be going through and how you are currently feeling.

The team will usually consist of:

  • Nurses
  • A family doctor or GP
  • Psychologists
  • Paediatricians
  • Social care workers
  • Counsellors
  • Art therapists
  • Family therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Support staff
  • Primary mental health workers and
  • Outreach workers
  • Youth offending workers

What are the roles of the CAMHS staff?


Your nurse will be there to support you throughout your time with CAMHS. They may also prescribe medicine for you every now and then. Nurses look after your basic health care needs and the day to day running of the unit.

A family doctor or GP

Your family doctor or GP may have recommended you to CAMHS.


A psychologist could either be clinical or educational. A psychologist will help you understand the way you behave, feel and think about certain things. This will allow you to draw up your own conclusions on where change is needed if at all.


A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in child health.

Social care workers

Social workers will be involved in most aspects of your discharge from the unit. They will help to make going home a joy for you.

Social workers may also refer you to CAMHS if you are at risk of abuse or if they feel your mental wellbeing is deteriorating.

There are some social workers who are trained in mental health therapy and capable of providing you counselling.

Psychiatric social workers are specialists who work with people during crises or over a longer period of time.


Counsellors use different therapies to help better your wellbeing. Mostly, this is done through talking.

Art therapists

Help develop skills in communication, physical ability and coordination. They use these skills to try and tag back to the specific issues you may be facing to try and increase your wellbeing and perception.

Family therapists

Your family therapists will look to better your wellbeing by developing your understanding, skills and communication in relation to family issues.


A psychiatrist specialises in mental health but more specifically for children and young people.

Your Psychiatrist who you will often hear being referred to as your consultant will be the main person in charge and the one person(amongst many) you can complain to or speak to if you don’t feel things are going well. Your psychiatrist will hold responsibility over your care and will decide what sort of treatments or medicines may be appropriate for you, how well you are doing since your time with CAMHS and very importantly will decide on your section 17 leave(if applicable).

Support staff

Support staff are staff who may do minor tasks to make our day to day life will at the inpatient unit more relaxing. This could be preparing your meals, doing your laundry or cleaning your room.

Youth Offending Workers

Your youth offending worker may have referred you to CAMHS and will work with you to find suitable programmes to help prevent you from offending in the future.

Where to find a child and adolescent mental health services location

Alternatives to the Child adolescent mental health services

There aren’t that many NHS services which alternate to CAMHS. CAMHS might take a while to fully kick in from when you get referred due to the long waiting times.

If you want to slowly look after your mental wellbeing you could start with our Half Full Not Empty (HFNE) app.

The HFNE app helps you track and manage your wellbeing whilst providing you with a secure community where you could discuss with peers, ask questions to trained mental health counsellors and offer help to other people who may be going through similar issues as you.

CAMHS: A guide

When do you move from CAMHS TO AMHS?

You will likely need to move from the child and adolescent mental health services to adult mental health services (AMHS) when you reach a certain age.

This is usually 18 but can vary depending on where you live. Your CAMHS worker should talk to you about this move 3 to 6 months before it’s due to happen.

The change as you may expect is a big one and your CAMHS caseworker will help you understand what it will feel like and give you, your friends and family as much information needed to support you through your move. Your CAMHS caseworker will arrange an appointment with AMHS and accompany you at your request to have your introductory meeting with theAMHS

The child and adolescent mental health services and AMHS will both decide worth sort of help you may need from the NHS itself and not just them. They may also decide the level of care you need is beyond what they can both provide and will draw up a plan for you and likely refer you to where you will be best suited to find help.


If the AMHS says you can move from CAMHS then your CAMHS caseworker will help you begin the move and assist you in getting used to the new structure.

In some cases, you may feel like you don’t need AMHS as you are feeling well enough to simply leave CAMHS. In this case your CAMHS worker, counsellor or therapist may help you make a plan so you know where to get help if you ever need help again.

CAMHS: A guide

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.