Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a name for NHS-provided services for children in the mental health arena in the UK. In the UK they are often organised around a 4 Tiers system. Tier 3 services are typically multidisciplinary in nature and the staff come from a range of professional background.

There may be a considerable overlap between the skills and competencies of staff working in the specialist services. Tier 4 are highly specialist services for young people. These are typically inpatient units for young people who require admission into hospital, but also include a range of other Tier 4 provision. There are about 90 adolescent units in England and Wales. Tier 3 services provide care in the majority of cases requiring specialist input.

The aim is to have a team led by a consultant psychiatrist, although other models exist and there is limited evidence of what system works best. It is suggested that there should be a consultant psychiatrist for a total population of 75,000, although in most of the UK this standard is not met.

The service includes:

For the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents, generally until school-leaving age. However many services cease at the age of sixteen, whereas the continuing service would be provided by Adult Mental Health at the age of eighteen.

The organisation of CAMHS services in the UK is complex. There is a programme coordinated by the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) to look at changing the way the workforce works. This New Ways of Working (NWW) includes CAMHS. The national Workforce Lead for CAMHS is Barry Nixon and Project Lead for NWW CAMHS is Tim Morris.

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