What is CAMHS?

CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Our aim is to provide an assessment and treatment service for children and young people who are experiencing emotional or mental health difficulties.

What kind of problems do you work with?

We see children from 0-18 years who are having all kinds of problems with managing their emotions, or experiencing a mental health difficulty. This includes low mood and depression, anxiety, anger, obsessive compulsive disorder, tics, eating disorders, psychosis. During the assessment we will get to know your child and what the difficulties are. This will help us plan what kind of help (intervention) is needed.

I’m worried about my child – How do I get them referred to CAMHS ?

The best way to start the process of being referred to CAMHS is to go and see your child’s GP to discuss your concerns. We advise this because the GP will be able to work out if CAMHS is the right service for you. Some referrals to CAMHS are also made by other professionals, such as health visitors.

How long will we have to wait for a first appointment?

Once the referral is received by CAMHS it will be coded as Urgent or Routine. Urgent appointments are seen within two weeks. If your referral is coded as routine, you will not wait for more than 9 weeks for a first appointment, often less. If you are worried about how long you are having to wait for an appointment, you have the option of contacting one of our referral coordinators to discuss your concerns on 028 383 92112.

This is an emergency – I need help right now!

If you are extremely worried about your child’s mental health and feel they need help right away, we would advise that you try to see your GP for an emergency appointment. Your GP can contact CAMHS to ask for an urgent assessment if needed. If your GP surgery is closed, you can contact the out of hours GP (028 383 99201). If your child is at risk of harming themselves, or in a state of crisis due to their mental health presentation, you also have the option of calling 999 or going to the Emergency Department at Craigavon Area Hospital or Daisy Hill Hospital.  Once your child is medically fit for discharge, the Emergency Department will make a referral to CAMHS. The Mental Health Risk Assessment will be completed at the hospital or at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

What happens at the first appointment?

The first appointment is called an assessment. You will usually meet with one or two members of the CAMHS team. They will explain how the service works, about important issues like confidentiality, and will begin the process of getting to know your child and family. Sometimes one appointment is enough to discuss all the important issues. Sometimes more meetings are needed. At the end of assessment, we will talk about what happens next. This may involve more sessions with the person who met your child for assessment, or being put in touch with another person or team within CAMHS. Sometimes we will advise that another organisation might be more helpful to you. For some families, the assessment helps them to understand their child’s difficulties, and they decide they do not need any more appointments.

Do I come into the first appointment with my child?

Generally, we are keen to involve parents in any work done in CAMHS. If you child is under 16 years, it will be important that you are present as we need consent from both the parent and young person. If your child is older, they may prefer to be seen individually. In many cases this is helpful as young people sometimes worry about talking openly in front of their loved ones. If your child is seen individually, we will need to negotiate what information from their sessions remains private, and what information needs to be shared with parents. You would always be informed if we were worried about the safety of your child.

Do I have to bring anything to the first appointment?

Prior to your first appointment you will be sent a letter including some questionnaires for you, or both you and your child to fill in. We would appreciate it if you could please bring these forms to your first appointment. They tell us more about the type of difficulties your child is having. You will probably be asked to do the same questionnaires at the end if your time with CAMHS. This is to help us look at whether the work we do with children and young people is effective.

What kind of help can you get at CAMHS?

To start off, we will always get to know your child by doing an assessment. We also do some specialist assessments, for example assessing for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. If further work is needed in CAMHS, the service can offer a range of interventions  or treatment options. These can include-
-Individual work with your child
-Talking therapies like CBT
-Family therapy
-Group work


There are a number of different specialist services within CAMHS. 


This service sees children age 0-3years.  Infant mental health is an important area for any CAMHS service. It refers to the emotional wellbeing of babies and toddlers


Tier 2 ‘just ask’ 
The Tier 2 team is made up of Primary Mental Health Workers, with some input from Clinical Psychology. This team see children and young people up to the age of 18years with mild to moderate emotional or mental health difficulties.


Tier 3 CAMHS
This team us made up of different health professionals, including social work, psychiatry, family therapy, clinical psychology and nursing. The Tier 3 team see children and young people up to the age of 18 years with more complex problems. This team works together to help children and young people with moderate to severe difficulties.


Community Intensive Intervention Service
The Community Intensive Intervention Service aims to provide a service within a variety of settings i.e. home, clinic, school etc to prevent hospital admission and to facilitate earlier discharge of children and adolescents with mental health difficulties using a recovery model of care. Practitioners provide intensive individual therapy over a short term only.  Support is also given to parents or those with parental responsibility. All young people working with this team will also be known to Tier 3 CAMHS.


Hospital Liaison Service
This service offers a Mental Health Risk Assessment to children and young people who attend the Emergency Department in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, or Craigavon Area hospital. Once the child or young person is deemed medically fit for discharge the Emergency Department or Acute General Ward will make a referral to the CAMHS team and a Mental Health Risk Assessment will be completed. The assessment can take place either in the hospital setting or at a CAMHS clinic.


Eating Disorders Team
This team is made up of nurses, dietician, family therapy, with input from psychiatry. The team sees children and young people who are struggling with anorexia or bulimia nervosa.


Substance Misuse Practitioner 
This practitioner works alongside the CAMHS team, with a special focus on young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties, and are also having significant difficulties because of drugs and alcohol.


Supporting Carers 
This project supports long term foster carers to help them to better understand and manage the difficulties experienced by young people in their care.


Young Person’s Partnership – ‘Hidden Harm’
This project works with Young people aged 12 to 18 years who are struggling with mild to moderate mental health issues, and  are also living with the impact of ‘hidden harm’, which is parental mental health or substance misuse.


Children with physical and sensory disabilities

In the past few years, there has been a joint project between CAMHS and the Disabled Children Young People Participation Project, a part of the Barnardos organisation. This was to try and understand the emotional and mental health difficulties experienced by children living with disability. CAMHS practitioners continue to work with this project, providing input to groups for children and young people living with disability. This is an exciting area of development for CAMHS and we hope to develop this further in the future.

Who will hear about my child coming to CAMHS?

We understand that confidentiality is important when a child or young person comes for help at CAMHS. Generally, we will strive to keep your child and family’s information private. However, we do keep the referrer/your GP informed of our work together, and if you give us permission, we will often contact other professionals, or school. Child protection is an important part of any service for young people. If we think a person is at risk of harm, or a risk to others, we are duty-bound to involve the relevant agencies to ensure that people remain safe. If this occurs, you will always be informed.

Who’s who in CAMHS?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has also done special training in working with children and young people who have mental health problems. The psychiatrists in a CAMHS team can advise about whether medication is right for your child, and check whether any medication your child take is helping.


Clinical psychologist
Clinical psychologists have special training in how to understand and treat people who are having difficulties with feelings, thinking and behaviour. They are trained in different talking therapies and also do assessments of thinking and learning ability.


Nurses who work in CAMHS have been specially trained in mental health. Sometimes these nurses are called Specialist Mental Health Practitioners.


Social Worker
Social workers in CAMHS often have special training which allows them to help children and families needing extra support. CAMHS social workers do different work to the social workers that work in Social Services in Child Protection.

However, it is important to know that everybody working in CAMHS needs to do their bit to make sure the children and young people that come to see us are safe.


Family Therapists
Family therapists have had special training to work with children, young people, and their families together, to try and help families think about how to overcome their problems together. Family therapy can be challenging, but in their feedback after therapy, families tell us that it is very useful. Click here to see some of the comments made by previous families.


Primary Mental Health
Worker Primary mental health workers in CAMHS are usually social workers or nurses who have gone on to work with young people who have mental health problems. Often Primary Mental Health Workers have done training in different approaches to helping young people with emotional problems.


Substance Misuse Practitioner
Our CAMHS substance misuse worker offers a community based therapeutic treatment service to children and young people under 18 years of age who have comorbid presentation i.e. significant substance misuse problem in conjunction with a mental/ emotional health difficulty. Children and young people are offered advice and support to try to help them in relation to understanding the impact of their drug or alcohol use, and help them set goals to reduce or stop using alcohol and drugs.


Clinical Referral Coordinators
CAMHS referral coordinators are usually social workers or nurses. They help to process all the requests we get for young people to be seen in CAMHS. The referral coordinator will help to work out what part of the service is right for you.


Administrators help keep the CAMHS service running smoothly! They will send out letters about your appointment, answer the phone if you call the clinic, and will probably be the first person you see when you arrive for your appointment. They will tell you where to wait, and will tell your CAMHS worker that you have arrived.

Carer’s Assessment

You are a ‘carer’, if you regularly provide or intend to provide a substantial amount of care for a child or young person attending the CAMHS Team.

A Carer’s Assessment is a chance to feel recognised for the caring role you carry out. It is a conversation for you to focus on how caring impacts on you, your lifestyle, and your physical and mental health.

The Assessment is not a test of your financial situation or your ability to care.

If your child is currently attending CAMHS and you would like to have a ‘Carer’s Assessment’ and have your role supported, please speak to your CAMHS worker who will put you in touch with the relevant person in CAMHS.

Click to view A Carer’s Guide to Carer’s Assessment leaflet

Useful links for parents

Young Minds  Parent helpline – 0808 802 5544
Parenting NI  0808 8010 722