Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is the name for NHS-provided services in the United Kingdom for children, generally until school-leaving age, who are having difficulties with their emotional or behavioural well-being.[1] CAMHS services are organised locally, and the exact services provided may vary, often by local government area.[2]

Service organisation[edit]

In the UK CAMHS are organised around a four tier system:[3]

Tier 1
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.
Tier 2
usually CAMHS specialists working in community and primary care, such as mental health workers and counsellors working in clinics, schools and youth services.
Tier 3
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, board certified behaviour analysts, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and other therapists.
Tier 4
highly specialist services for children and young people with serious problems, such as day units, specialised outpatient teams and in-patient units.

Specialist CAMHS - Tiers 3 and 4[edit]

Generally patients cannot self-refer to Tier 3 or 4 services, which are sometimes called specialist CAMHS. Referrals can be made by a wide range of agencies and professionals, including GPs and school nurses.[1][4]

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.[citation needed]

The Tier 4 service includes hospital care, with about 1,300 hospital beds provided in England for adolescents aged 13 to 18. Typical conditions that sometime require hospital care include depression, psychoses, eating disorders and severe anxiety disorders.[5]

The service includes:


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.[6][7] In 2015 the government promised a funding increase of about £250 million per year, however the funds were not ring-fenced and as of 2016 only about half of England's Clinical commissioning groups had increased local CAMHS funding.[8][9]

In Scotland, between 2007 and 2016 the number of CAMHS psychologists had doubled, reflecting increased demand for the service.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A guide to mental health services in England". NHS England. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  2. ^ Sarah Wright (16 November 2016). "The 30-second briefing: What are CAMHS?". TES Connect. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "CAMHS: Four-tier strategic framework". Department for Children, Schools and Families. 7 January 2010. Archived from the original on 2 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)". Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Children in UK mental health hospitals 'not improving', parents say". The Guardian. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Problems with children's and adolescents. mental health services, says Committee". Health Select Committee. UK Parliament. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Major concerns about CAMHS reductions in England". British Psychological Society. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "CAMHS cash at risk of being diverted from frontline, commission finds". National Health Executive. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "Former care minister slams May's 'puny response' to CAMHS funding". National Health Executive. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  10. ^ "More children getting help from mental health services". BBC News. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 

External links[edit]