Frequently Asked Questions

What is CAMHS?

CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. We offer support to children and young people who have difficulties with their emotions, behaviour or mental health. We can also provide support to families too. Children and young people can be referred to CAMHS if they are finding it hard to cope with home life, school life or the wider world.

We work with children and young people for lots of different reasons. This may include, feeling sad, angry, or anxious. We can also help if you have problems with things like, eating and sleeping.  CAMHS is not the only place that can help with these kinds of problems and if you come to CAMHS we will think with you about who might be the best person to help you  - this could be CAMHS or it could be somewhere else – this depends on your particular circumstances and what you want.

Who will I be seeing and what is their role?

There are lots of different professionals who work in CAMHS. It could be that you work with just one person, or sometimes a few different people.

All the people you will meet in CAMHS have the skills to meet with you and help decide what the problem is and what might help - once this is decided between you and the person you see, they will get you in touch with the person in the team best able to help.

How can CAMHS help me?

Here at CAMHS you can meet people who will talk with you to try and understand your problems and find ways to help – they might also ask you to fill out some questionnaires which can help understand you and your problems. 

You will meet us for a first appointment to discuss some of the difficulties that you have been having, and together we will set some goals, and make a plan to help you with these difficulties. You will then meet with a CAMHS professional for an agreed number of sessions, where you will work towards the goals you have set.

How do I get referred to CAMHS?

If you think that you would like to be referred to CAMHS, then it is best to speak to a parent or carer if possible.  The best way to get a referral is by seeing your GP.

What will happen at the first meeting/ appointment?

The first meeting is called a “Choice Appointment”. In the Choice Appointment a CAMHS professional will talk with you and your family about the difficulties that you have been having, and what you would like to be different. You will also have the chance to talk to us on your own, if you would like. You will probably be asked to fill out a short questionnaire that can give the person you see some other helpful information – to help understand you and your problems better.

Once you and your CAMHS professional have a shared idea about what is going on, you can agree on a plan to try and change it. You may decide together that something else other than CAMHS would be more helpful, and we will try and work out what this might be. You may find just talking this one time is enough to give you ideas about how to tackle the problem. If it is decided that you will be supported by CAMHS, you will be booked into “Partnership” appointments with a CAMHS professional. This will be the best person to help you make the changes you want. 

What is a Choice appointment?

The Choice appointment is what we call the first meeting in CAMHS.. At this meeting you can think together about what brings you to CAMHS, what is going well, and what you would like to be different. We use the time in the meeting to understand you a little better and have ideas about what might help – for most people there is more than one helpful thing to do to get you to where you want to be – we want to really understand what these choices are and work with you to decide the best way forward.  Once these have been agreed, and if the best choice is to work with someone in CAMHS to help you get to where you want to be, we will line you up with the best person in the team to work with you – which we call Partnership.

What is a Partnership appointment?

The partnership phase (the therapy phase) is a series of appointments with a CAMHS professional who has the necessary skills to be able to help you with the goals identified at your Choice appointment.

Do I need to do anything before my appointment?

Before your Choice appointment, you will sometimes be asked to fill in some short questionnaires and bring these with you – these can really help understand you and your problems better. It may also be useful to think about what you would like to be different by coming to CAMHS.

Will my family be involved in my appointments?

Your family will usually be invited to the Choice appointment with you, as we feel it is important to listen to your views and also to the views of the people who care for you. Your family may also provide useful ideas about what has got stuck and what could be different. You will have the chance to talk on your own during this time, if it would be helpful.

For the partnership work, the level of family involvement changes for each individual. How much your family is involved is based on who you would like to be included, but also on what we know works. For example, we might agree together that it makes sense to work with the whole (or part) of the family, as this helps people in close relationships help each other.

How long will I have to wait for an appointment?

Once we have received a referral to our service, we will send you a letter, asking you to contact us for a Choice Appointment. We know that any waiting is really difficult when you have a problem, and we try really hard to see people as quickly as we can but sometimes there is a bit of wait – but usually this is no longer than six weeks  Once you have been seen for a Choice appointment there can be a little time to wait for the partnership work to start – again we try and see you as quickly as we can. And certainly don’t want people to wait more than six weeks for partnership work to start.

How often will I have an appointment with CAMHS?

This really depends on your individual needs and also when you would like to be seen. Some people are seen more than once a week, whereas others are seen only once a month, or sometimes longer. This is something that can be discussed when you meet your CAMHS professional.

How much say will I have in my care?

At CAMHS, you and your CAMHS professional will be working jointly, to try and make sure the partnership work is right for you.  You are the expert in your life.  We have expertise from our training and from working with other young people and their families. Together we will come up with agreed goals, and will continuously review how you are finding the sessions, so they can be altered if needed – again feedback forms can help you and your care worker check out how things are going and see if anything needs to change.

Will I be seen by the same person’s?

The person who will see you for your Choice appointment may not be the same person who will see you for Partnership work. You will be matched up with a CAMHS professional who has the skills to be able to help with the goals identified at your Choice appointment. There is also the option of changing the therapist if things are not working out. 

Will I always be seen in the clinic?

We usually see people in the clinic, which is often in a health centre or hospital, but we sometimes see people in schools, at home, at local GP buildings and other appropriate settings. We are currently thinking about the buildings that we see children and young people in, so we will keep you updated on this.

Who will know that I am seeing CAMHS?

Your CAMHS professional will tell you how they will treat the information you give them and who, if anyone, they will share it with. When you come to CAMHS, it should be seen as a safe place to talk about some difficult things. If you do not want anyone else to know what you have said, then that is ok. But if we are worried about you hurting yourself, or someone else, then we may have to tell someone who can help you keep safe.

We would also usually send a letter to the person who referred you to CAMHS, to let them know that CAMHS are working with you. If agreed, a copy of these letters will go to your doctor and family too.

What is CYP IAPT?

It stands for Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

It is hoped that CYP IAPT will change the way mental health services for children and young people are provided. The main changes include:

  • making sure young people have more of a say in how the service is run
  • making sure CAMHS professionals are up-to-date with the right skill to best help the young people and families we work with 
  • making sure the CAMHS workers and young people and families work well together. One of the ways to do this is to understand each other as best we can -  using questionnaires and forms to monitor how you are doing, and how you are finding the sessions.

What questionnaires will I have to fill out?

Questionnaires can be helpful to get information and ideas to understand you and your difficulties better. We may ask you to fill out some questionnaires to bring with you to your Choice appointment. You may also be asked to fill in some short questionnaires at the end of each session, which will help to track how you are feeling, and to make sure things are moving in the right direction, and you and your CAMHS worker are working well together to get you to where you want to be.

These feedback forms and questionnaires are there to try and help things – young people have told us that they can really help and are sometimes easier to say things in the forms that might be difficult to say out loud - but you don’t have to fill them out if you don’t want to – it’s your choice!

What happens to my feedback?

Your feedback forms can help you and your CAMHS worker see how you are doing and check if you are working well together  - young people have told us that they can really help and are sometimes easier to say things in the forms that might be difficult to say out loud  as well as your experience of the service. These forms will remain in your file, and it can help to look back at the forms to see what has changed.

We also use the information you give us to help us improve what we do. With your permission, we will also enter the results of your feedback into a database. When your feedback is entered onto the database it will not include any personal details. If we have the information all in one place it helps us to see what we do well and where we need to improve. 

What is involvement and how can I get involved?

This means involving children and young people in the way that psychological therapies are set-up and made available for them, or others accessing the service.

We are always looking for young people with passion and ideas to become involved. The main ways to do this are to become a Willing Consultee, which involves giving online feedback when we ask for it, or by sharing your views on the MyAPT forum. Another way to become involved, is to become a Sessional Worker, who help us to run training and information events.

What is the transfer process to adult service?

If you are receiving a service from CAMHS you can continue to do so until your 19th birthday if this is the best thing for you. When you are around 17 ½, you and your CAMHS professional may start to talk about what services you might continue to benefit from, and they will support you through this transition.

Some young people move on to college and university outside the local area. If this is the case, the team will discuss with you which services you might continue to need and transfer your care to your new location.

Sometimes, young people will continue to need mental health service support and will get this from the appropriate adult mental health service.  You may feel that you do not wish for further mental health support, and your therapist will talk you through leaving the service.

Whatever your needs, your CAMHS professional will work with you to transfer your care.


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A - Z of mental health conditions.

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