Child And Adolescent Mental Health Services: national service specification

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) NHS Scotland national service specification outlining provisions young people and their families can expect from the NHS.


NHS Scotland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are multi-disciplinary teams that provide (i) assessment and treatment/interventions in the context of emotional, developmental, environmental and social factors for children and young people experiencing mental health problems, and (ii) training, consultation, advice and support to professionals working with children, young people and their families.

All children and families should receive support and services that are appropriate to their needs. For many children and young people, such support is likely to be community based, and should be easily and quickly accessible.

Children, young people and their families will be able to access additional support which targets emotional distress through Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Supports and Services. Community supports and services should work closely with CAMHS and relevant health and social care partners, children's services and educational establishments to ensure that there are clear and streamlined pathways to support where that is more appropriately delivered by these services.

CAMHS will support both universal and additional children and young people's services, including new and enhanced Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Supports, by providing consultation, advice and training, and where appropriate, supervision of those staff providing psychological interventions. Children, young people and their families supported in CAMHS will also have access to supports provided within universal and additional services.

Most young people requiring CAMHS will present with mental health problems that are causing significant impairments in their day-to-day lives, and where the other services and approaches described above have not been effective, or are not appropriate. These presentations can result in both the need for scheduled and/or unscheduled care.

CAMHS will be available for all children and young people who are aged 0 – 18, and who meet the agreed CAMHS referral criteria in Scotland (see Annex 1 - National Referral Pro-forma for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Scotland). CAMHS will accept requests for assistance and referrals from all children's services professionals, adults with concerns and young people where the National Referral Criteria are met.

CAMHS are usually provided within a stepped and matched care model described in Tiers. This is consistent with the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) model and principles (and the model agreed by The Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme Board). CAMHS works within the network of children's service providers, both statutory and third sector, and will be fully engaged in Children's Services Planning Partnerships. CAMHS will aim to treat children and young people in the right place, at the right time and as close to home as possible.

Diagram 1: CAMHS within the agreed Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing model:

Diagram 1: CAMHS within the agreed Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing model:

CAMHS supports universal and targeted community services (Tier 1 and Tier 2), but primarily works as a multi-disciplinary team within a local area - CAMHS Locality Teams (Tier 3), supported by services that have specific and additional expertise, often provided over a larger area (e.g. Forensic CAMHS, Psychiatric Inpatient Care) (Tier 4).

Sections 1 to 7 below are the minimum service standards to be delivered by all NHS Scotland CAMHS and these standards will be reviewed regularly, and in the first instance, in June 2020 on the basis of learning from the implementation process. All statements should be read with the preface "CAMHS in Scotland will":



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