Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

CAMHS is used as a term for all services that work with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional or behavioural wellbeing.

Local areas have a number of different support services available. These might be from the statutory, voluntary or school-based sector, such as an NHS trust, local authority, school or charitable organisation.

Children and young people may need help with a wide range of issues at different points in their lives. Parents and carers may also need help and advice to deal with behavioural or other problems their child is experiencing. Parents, carers and young people can receive direct support through CAMHS.

What are specialist CAMHS?

Specialist CAMHS are NHS mental health services that focus on the needs of children and young people. They are multidisciplinary teams that often consist of:

  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • social workers
  • nurses
  • support workers
  • occupational therapists
  • psychological therapists – this may include child psychotherapists, family psychotherapists, play therapists and creative art therapists
  • primary mental health link workers
  • specialist substance misuse workers

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include ADHD, autism spectrum disorders depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

Alarmingly, however, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include: being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors being part of a family that gets along well, most of the time going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its pupils taking part in local activities for young people.

Other factors are also important, including: feeling loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves being hopeful and optimistic being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community feeling they have some control over their own life having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.

Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. That is probably because of changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.REF: NHSEngland

How Ark Oval Helps

Our Inclusion team work closely with families when there are concerns about a pupil’s mental health. Parents can express their concerns to the classroom teacher or ask for an appointment with a member of the Senior Leadership Team.

Adults in school may also express concerns about a child with whom they work. In all cases home/ school liaison is crucial in order to support the child’s wellbeing and regular discussions would take place.
Once these concerns were expressed the child would be observed in school and different strategies e.g. social stories, movement breaks, small group work and mentoring. A referral to the school Educational Psychologist or a visit to the family GP may be suggested.

We are fortunate to usually have 2 student social workers on placement at the school during the Autumn and Spring terms and parents may wish to have support from one of them.In all cases the wellbeing of the child is paramount.

In an emergency situation, with a parent’s authorisation, the school will liaise directly with the local hospital to support the child. In very rare cases Social Care may be involved, generally with parents’ permission.

Any questions?

You are welcome to talk to the Inclusion Managers; either face-to-face or via telephone or email.

At Ark Oval Primary Academy the Inclusion Manager is Sonal Desai. Days in school: Monday to Friday (9.00am-4.00pm)

Contact: School phone number or ask for Sonal Desai at the front desk.


If you would like to find out more about (CAMHS) services and how they may help click here and also here.

For Croydon support click here.

Further guidance can also be found here.