We know when working with children and young people it can sometimes be hard to know what difficulties they might be having in their life, or if they’re struggling with their mental health or emotional wellbeing. To help, we’ve put together a list of some of challenges they might be experiencing and some tips for how to monitor and manage these.

What can I do next?

Have you have looked at the relevant information and advice? Have you tried the self-help options? Have you accessed support from the suggested apps, websites and organisations listed? If you are still struggling to find help, it might be helpful to speak to a CAMHS clinician. Please contact your local CAMHS team – click here.

Zero Tolerance approach

We would appreciate your support in being respectful towards CAMHS colleagues, and for your understanding of the pressures that are being faced within our services and across the NHS at the moment.

It is important that all colleagues are treated with kindness, compassion and respect.

In Sussex, we are part of Operation Cavell, a partnership between Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Sussex Police to tackle violence and anti-social behaviour which is aimed towards healthcare staff.

We know that waiting is very difficult and we would welcome your support wherever appropriate in communicating to families and colleagues that we are aware of the challenges that waiting for appointments is placing on them and that we are redesigning our services to respond more effectively to the increase in need.

We are increasing capacity for services that deliver prevention and early intervention so that children and young people’s needs can be met. This will take time, but means those needs can be met before young people require more specialist support.


What is Sussex CAMHS and what can it help with?

Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service is an NHS specialist service, provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for young people aged 0-18 years and their families who are experiencing difficulties with their mental and emotional health. Many young people experience difficulties with their mental health such as anxiety, low mood, trauma, eating difficulties, plus many others which can impact on all aspects of life such as education, home life, hobbies, socialising and having fun.

CAMHS work with young people, their families and other organisations, such as schools, to achieve the following:

  • Develop a shared understanding of the young person’s difficulties. For some young people at CAMHS, psychiatric diagnosis may be helpful. Diagnosis raises lots of questions, so find out more here:
  • Identify realistic goals or changes that the young person would like to make
  • Identify and build on strengths
  • Improve self-esteem and confidence to cope with difficulties
  • Learn emotional coping techniques to help manage difficult or upsetting thoughts, feelings, urges or experiences
  • Empower young people to identify, express and communicate their needs, to ensure their health is supported at home and school, college or work and to feel confident in knowing where and how to get additional support
What CAMHS don’t do

We cannot “cure” mental health difficulties or prevent difficulties ever coming back. Lots of things can impact on our mental health, some of which are beyond anyone’s control. Instead we work with young people and families to help them learn how to manage these difficulties, and in many cases, overcome them. There may also be some difficulties or experiences which CAMHS are not able to provide support for. In these cases we will help families to access appropriate help from other organisations and services such as drug and alcohol services and bereavement services.

How do I get an appointment at CAMHS for a young person?

We would recommend talking to CAMHS before making a referral so that we can offer advice and guidance and to decide whether CAMHS is the right service to meet the young person’s needs. CAMHS may also be able to offer recommendations about other services, organisations and things that may be helpful.

If after receiving a referral it is agreed that it would be helpful for Sussex Specialist CAMHS to offer an appointment, the young person will be given a date as soon as possible. Please be aware that there may be a wait for an appointment.

How long will a young person have to come to CAMHS?

This will depend on many factors including the type of difficulties the young person is experiencing and their goals. Some people coming to CAMHS will be offered one of our specialist therapies or interventions. We typically help people over an average of 10-12 meetings. Sometimes young people are also offered medication to help them feel better, although most young people coming to CAMHS do not require medication.

How long do sessions last?

Sessions usually last between 50 minutes and one hour. Some sessions are longer depending on the therapy approach being used.

Will the young person be prescribed medication?

No, not everyone that comes to CAMHS is prescribed medication. Medication can be helpful for some young people depending on what difficulties they are experiencing.

It’s the weekend or evening and CAMHS is closed - what do I do?

If there is an emergency and a young person or someone else is at risk of serious harm, call 999 immediately.

If a young person is in crisis and does not know what to do to get help, click here.

What do certain words mean? Read our glossary

Here are some of the words that you might come across on this website or when people are talking about CAMHS or mental health.


Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) – CAMHS provides specialist diagnostic assessments for specific age groups and provides support for those with moderate-severe mental health problems and ASC. Support for people with ASC is provided as part of the local offer from schools, colleges, voluntary organisations and the local authority.

Assessment – An assessment is a chance for CAMHS workers to ask questions which will help us to understand your current situation and the difficulties a young person is experiencing, as well as finding out about what changes you would like to make.


Behaviour – Behaviour means how we act and respond to things.


Care plan – A care plan is the agreement that you make with your CAMHS worker about what steps will help you to work towards your goals and the changes you’d like to make. Care plans will be reviewed often and can change depending on a young person’s needs and goals.

Clinician – Clinician is a name for someone who works at CAMHS directly with young people and their families. They might also be called a CAMHS worker.

CPA – A CPA stands for ‘Care Programme Approach’ and is a meeting between a young person, a CAMHS worker, plus anyone else involved in supporting to agree the care plan.

Consent – Consent means permission/an agreement for something to happen. It is important that CAMHS understand what the young person agrees to. Your CAMHS worker will explain and go through this with you.

Confidentiality – Confidentiality means keeping information about a young person private. There will be different types of confidentiality and your CAMHS worker will explain and go through this with you.


Discharge – Discharge means that it has been agreed between a young person and their CAMHS worker that CAMHS support is no longer needed and no further appointments are required.

Duty Service – During this time, there will be a qualified CAMHS worker who is able to offer information or advice.


Emotion – Emotion is another word for feelings. We all experience a range of feelings such as happiness, worry, sadness and anger.




Intervention – Intervention means treatment. There are many different types of interventions or treatments that CAMHS offer.





Medication – Medication may be tablets or liquids prescribed by a doctor (or psychiatrist) to help with different difficulties. For more information about medication go to or

Mental Health – Everyone has mental health. Mental health is about our capacity to get on with our lives, develop relationships and progress in line with our preferences.

Mental Illness or Disorder – Mental illness can impact on how someone thinks feels and acts. This might have an impact on how people cope with some or all aspects of their life (such as school or college, friendships, doing activities). Mental illness can happen to anyone at any time.



Outcome Measures – When you come to CAMHS you will be asked to complete questionnaires about your thoughts, feelings and difficulties. These questionnaires are called outcome measures and they help you, your family and your CAMHS worker check the progress you are making.


Physical Health Assessment – Some young people need to have their physical health checked. The types of checks we might do are checking weight and height, blood pressure and temperature.



Referral – A referral is the way in which key information about a young person is given to CAMHS. This information will include personal details (date of birth), contact details and details of the difficulties they are having.

Risk Assessment – A risk assessment is a process of identifying situations or factors which might cause harm to a young person or someone else. A risk assessment will also include things, people, situations or other factors which reduce or prevent risks or a crisis from happening. The young person, CAMHS worker and anyone else involved in caring or supporting them will be involved in thinking about risk to make sure they are as safe as possible.