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

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.

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  1. roisin says:

    Hi Rebekah,

    ReachOut.com is an online service that helps young people through tough times by providing information. You can contact us at info@inspireireland.ie. If you would like to contact your local CAMHS team you find their contact details on this page of the HSE website.

    All the best,
    Roisin

  2. Rebekah says:

    This is St. Laserians Special School. I would appreciate a contact number for your services.

    Regards

    Rebekah

  3. roisin says:

    Hi Anne,

    ReachOut.com is not affiliated with CAMHS we are an information service for young people going through tough times. Hat said what you have been experiencing must be very frustrating.

    I spoke with one of our clinical advisers who specialises in working with young people who are experiencing ADHD and has worked closely with CAMHS teams about your query and this was her response:

    CAMHS can be very oversubscribed and some have restricted their services a lot as a result. There is a problem also with getting enough qualified doctors to work on the teams and this is causing problems in dealing with medical issues like ADHD. I absolutely accept that you are saying is correct and not good enough. You are entitled to feel aggrieved and to agitate for improved input.

    I am glad to hear that your child is getting psychological support and I imagine that there should also be parenting support i.e. groups offered. I would encourage you to take that up as it is not intended to mean that the parents are “to blame” but to give them additional ways of managing what can be a very difficult situation. It also allows parents the opportunity to get together and feel less isolated.

    The good news is that there has been additional recruitment of non-medical people to CAMHS in the last year or so and although most needed time to gain expertise in this specialist area, they are now offering additional services such as listening and attention and social skills groups which can be very helpful for children with ADHD and related conditions. Hopefully with time these new staff will help to provide additional and earlier interventions for children and young people. There has also been an increased interest in infant mental health in some areas which should help with identifying difficulties earlier.

    I hope you find this helpful

    All the best,
    Roisin.

  4. Anne says:

    We have been very disappointed with the services of CAMHS in our area,we have to wait for long periods between appointments. We have had appointments cancelled.The waiting list is very long, children under 7years are not seen ,even though many issues such as ADHD are obvious by this age. .We have been treated with meds only and have had to wait for 2 years for an offer of CBT. Surely early intervention would be much better in the treatment of mental health issues.,especially in children.

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