Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a name for NHS-provided services for children, generally until school-leaving age, in the mental health arena in the UK.
In the UK CAMHS are organised around a four tier system:
general advice and treatment for less severe problems by non-mental health specialists working in general services, such as GPs, school nurses, social workers, and voluntary agencies.
usually CAMHS specialists working in community and primary care, such as mental health workers and counsellors working in clinics, schools and youth services.
usually a multi-disciplinary team or service working in a community mental health clinic providing a specialised service for more severe disorders, with team members including psychiatrists, social workers, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and other therapists.
highly specialist services for children and young people with serious problems, such as day units, specialised outpatient teams and in-patient units.
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.
From about 2013 onward major concerns have been expressed about reductions in CAMHS services, and apparently increasing demand, and in 2014 the parliamentary Health Select Committee investigated and reported on provision.