CAMHS: What to expect

If you, or a young person in your life, is experiencing a mental health problem, you might be referred to CAMHS, which stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

These are NHS services which assess and treat young people who are seeking support for an emotional, behavioural, or mental health difficulty.

Working with young people and Edinburgh South CAMHS, and thanks to funding from the Co-op National Charity Partnership, we’ve created these animations to help explain a little bit more about CAMHS, and what to expect if you are referred to the service.

1. What is CAMHS?

In this short video, Kyle explains what CAMHS is, what it stands for and how the service works to provide help for children and young people in Scotland.

What is CAMHS?
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2. Getting referred to CAMHS

Watch this video to see Erin explain the process of being referred to the CAMHS service. Erin also shares how being included in the referral process helped her to feel heard.

Getting referred to CAMHS
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3. Finding your voice

In this video, Flynn talks about the importance of sharing mental health struggles with adults you trust in order to get the best support. Flynn encourages other young people to feel confident to ask questions about CAMHS as they go through the process.

Finding your voice
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4. Wellbeing while you wait

In this animation, Flynn shares some good ideas about how to care for your wellbeing while you wait to hear from CAMHS.

Wellbeing while you wait
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5. When CAMHS can't support you

Not all referrals to CAMHS are accepted, and in this video, Kyle talks about how he felt when he received the news that he wouldn't be seen by the service. He also explains some next steps you and your family can take to access alternative support.

When CAMHS can't support you
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6. Going to an initial meeting

This animation, voiced by Erin, explains what happens when you get invited to an initial meeting with CAMHS. Erin talks about where the meeting can take place, and what sort of things will be discussed. Erin explains what will happen after the meeting, and the different options available for further support.

Going to an initial meeting
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SAMH is campaigning for better mental health services for children and young people.

CAMHS isn’t and shouldn’t be the only answer for young people seeking help for their mental health; but no one should be turned away from the system without alternative support. 

SAMH has been campaigning for an end to rejecting CAMHS referrals for six years, yet despite repeated promises from The Scottish Government, around 9,000 young people were still turned away by the system last year. 

If you’d like to help inform and influence our campaigning work in this area, get in touch with