Child and adolescent mental health services

Stone statue of childChild and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a free specialist service for children and adolescents with serious emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

The service caters for young people up to 16-years-old, although some CAMHS services extend to 18 years for young people in full-time education.

What can CAMHS help with?

The range of mental health problems experienced by children and teenagers is broad and can include anxiety, eating disorders, depression, attempted suicide, psychosis, ADHD, complex bereavement, relationship difficulties and school related problems, all of which the CAMHS team has experience with dealing with.

How do you contact CAMHS?

A young person must be referred to CAMHS by a health professional familiar with the case. This will usually be the family GP. CAMHS also accept referrals from other senior health professionals such as public health nurses, social workers, speech and language therapists or educational psychologists.

Who is on the CAMHS team?

The CAMHS team is made up of health professionals who are experienced in working with children and teenagers with mental health difficulties. The team consists of a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, registrar, clinical psychologist, clinical nurse specialist, social worker, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and administrative staff.

What help is available from CAMHS?

Often the most important help that CAMHS offer is to talk with and listen to young people and their families. While each case is different, some of the following approaches may be recommended:

What to expect

CAMHS usually invite both the young person and their parents/guardians to attend the first appointment. The family will meet one or more members of the team. Sometimes CAMHS meet all the family together, other times they meet parents separately.

The meeting will include asking questions about development, school progress, general health and relevant family history. In some situations CAMHS will discuss the possibility of a home visit and/or seek parent(s) permission to visit the person’s school.

Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to give the parents feedback on the findings of the assessment and discuss what help may be needed. The family GP will be kept informed of the young person’s progress.

The team approach to CAMHS

All CAMHS work is team focused. All assessments are discussed with the team. All of the interventions are planned by the team in collaboration with the young person and their family. While the team’s approach is primarily child-centred they work closely with parents and carers.

How long with it take?

The waiting time for the service will depend on the severity of the need. Once seen, most problems don’t disappear overnight. Some problems may resolve very quickly and require only two or three meetings. However, in other instances, regular meetings over a period of months may be needed.


Confidentiality for both the young person and their family is an essential element of the CAMHS service. Generally the information the young person shares with their therapist is kept in confidence.

However, if concerns arise about the child’s safety and welfare then parents and other services are informed as necessary.

For more information go to the Irish College of General Practitioners.

Helpful sites

Comments Show all comments

  1. says:

    Hi Nickola, is a voluntary sector online youth mental health support and we have no direct link to CAMHS.

    There are CAMHS centres located all across Ireland and as we're not sure where you're living, we don't know where your nearest CAMHS would be.

    We think the best thing to do is to contact your GP or OT again and ask them for the address of the CAMHS centre they referred you to. That way you'll be sure you are getting the right place and address.

    We hope this helps,

  2. Nickola says:

    My sons OT and GP have refereed us to CAMHS. would you please forward me on your address. Thank you.

  3. says:

    Hi Sam,

    I really am sorry to hear what you and your family are going through. Navigating these services can be very frustrating at times. I contacted one of our experts to get their advise on your query so hopefully this is helpful.

    Our expert advised that it may be worth while to see what the CAMHS psychiatrist has to say. Even if you did have a bad experience with the service before this is an entirely new situation and a different child . If you are concerned about the child's mental health and do not just want him medicated it may be that there are other members of the CAMHS team who are able to help. It is difficult to make a call on this situation but in general, if a parent is unhappy with a service then they are entitled to a second opinion and you could go back to the private psychiatrist if you are dissatisfied with the advice you receive.

    I hope this makes sense,


  4. says:

    Hi Lynn,

    We spoke with our clinical advisor about your comment and we were told that melatonin can be quite effective to help ASD children with sleep, and it is prescribed quite a lot by paediatricians. Melatonin seems to be a little controversial for GPs though and this is probably why your local GP refused to prescribe it.

    Our clinical advisor suggests that you ask for a follow up with the doctor who prescribed the medication originally to see if they think it’s best to prescribe again. It might also be useful to ask this doctor to make contact with your GP to discuss how best to support your son.

    If getting in touch with the doctor who originally prescribed the melatonin proves difficult, or if you would prefer, you could also ask to speak with a different GP at your local clinic or a GP at another clinic.

    If you are on a medial card though, you may have to pay to speak with a GP other than your own local GP.

    We hope this helps a little Lynn and that your son gets the support he deserves.

    Take care,

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