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.
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)
CAMHS: Frequently Asked Questions
What is CAMHS? Read a detailed explanation on this NHS page
Who is who in CAMHS? Information from the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Beginning the CAMHS journey Answers to some common questions put together by CAMHS Oxford.
What’s it like to start treatment or have to go into hospital? Videos and advice from OnMyMind for young people
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
- CAMHS website for all services in the Bath, Wiltshire and North-East Somerset (BANES) geographical area.
- CAMHS services for South-East and South-West Somerset are detailed here with some videos and photographs.
- CAMHS services for North Somerset with clinics in Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare (GP referral)
Gloucester and Hereford
- The Children and Young People’s Service website has a good video voiced by children of different ages about coming to the service (under “coming to CYPS”)
- 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.