Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

What to expect from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (UK)

Do you feel your child needs to see a psychologist or have specialist mental health advice? To be referred to a specialist service, you will often first need to see your GP. In some parts of the UK, referrals can be made by schools or families can even self-refer.You can find out by searching for the word “CAMHS” and your area online.

If you are concerned about a possible Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) your child will usually be referred to Community Paediatrics if under 18 years. For those over 18, a referral to adult services will be needed.

Worries about mental health such as depression or eating disorders in under 18-year-olds are usually referred to CAMHS. 

Waiting times for both services can be long due to demand. Any referral needs to explain what has already been tried, such as support from the school nurse, health visitor or local counselling. A letter from the school and/or from parents and carers detailing what they have noticed can be really helpful as well.

Waiting for CAMHS; information for 11-18-year-olds and their families

As waiting times are constantly shifting, are different in each area and depend on the individual problem, we, unfortunately, cannot offer estimates for how long you will have to wait to see a specialist.

If you live in the South-West UK, scroll down to find information on your local CAMHS services.


When will CAMHS see children more quickly?

  • Eating disorders, especially in younger children
  • Serious suicidal thoughts or other concerns about risk.
  • Problems with bonding in infancy especially if mum has postnatal depression.
  • Psychosis (see link for definition)


Maya talks about her experience of CAMHS and about other things that she found helpful like the ChIldlIne message boards.


Please contact us if you work for CAMHS and would like to help us add your area


  • Bristol Children’s Community Health Partnership which includes information on CAMHS and Community Paediatrics and services such as school nursing, speech therapy and excellent information on specific conditions such as ADHD.
  • Bristol services are based in a variety of locations around the city including Eastville, Barton Hill, Brentry, Knowle, Whitchurch, Kingswood, Patchway and Kingsweston. The link will take you to details on each including travel and parking.

Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Somerset

Gloucester and Hereford

South Gloucester

  • South Gloucester CAMHS is at the Kingswood Locality Hub which is also a base for other help and support such as speech therapy, midwives, childcare, advice on finance and housing, parenting courses and more for families.


  • CAMHS Cornwall This website includes a video on “What is CAMHS” (scroll down to the bottom). Parents can also self-refer for Early Help or CAMHS services via the website. 

Exeter and North Devon

  • CAMHS services run in Exeter, Totnes, Tiverton and Barnstable and the website explains how referrals are made, the services available and the different locations.  

Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon

  • Plymouth CAMHS General information on the service and a video showing you their inpatient adolescent ward (Plym Bridge House) 

  • Torbay and South Devon CAMHS On the parent’s page there is a self-referral form, links to useful websites and some videos on the CAMHS service.