Young people have told us that they often feel anxious before their first appointment because they do not know what to expect. This page can help answer questions you may have before coming to a CAMHS service. It’s important you know that you can also ask the CAMHS team questions at this stage and throughout your time spent with CAMHS.
Usually, after talking it over with you, your general practitioner (GP), teacher or someone who is concerned about your emotional wellbeing will contact CAMHS to ask them to see you. They might write a letter to your local CAMHS team or complete a referral form explaining the reasons why they think it would be helpful for you to be seen. A few clinics will also accept self-referrals, which means that you can contact them directly to make an appointment.
If you’re not sure how to start a conversation with your GP about mental health, try the award-winning Doc Ready app. It can help you plan what to say and create a checklist of things to take so that you don’t get sidetracked.
There can be a wait between the referral being made and your first CAMHS appointment. How long this will be can vary across services but the team will always see you as quickly as they can. To check when your first appointment is likely to be, please phone your local CAMHS service who may be able to provide you with a rough idea of when you are likely to be seen.
Find your local CAMHS service
If you become worried about your safety or the safety of others around you, or you need to be seen in an emergency before your first appointment, you should go directly to your GP or local hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department.
Yes. If you’re not able to able to attend your appointment please let us know as soon as possible. We can then offer that appointment to someone else and make another appointment for you at a time that is more convenient.
Appointments usually take place at your local clinic, but can sometimes happen at other places such as school. We will talk with you about where it’s best to meet.
At your first appointment, you will meet one or two of the CAMHS team who will ask you a range of questions that will help them to understand your current difficulties. This is often called an ‘assessment’. If you or your parents are not confident speaking English, they can arrange for an interpreter to be there.
At an assessment, young people are seen with their parents or carers and/or by themselves. It can be helpful to have family members involved to get their ideas about what’s going on. They can also help support any changes you might want to make.
However there might be things you want to talk about privately. Read more about privacy
Your first appointment with the CAMHS team is a chance for you to talk to them about what’s happening. It also gives you the opportunity to find out more about them and the service that they provide.
Your CAMHS worker might ask you some questions like the ones below:
You don’t have to answer all the questions that they ask and you can also ask them questions.
At the end of your appointment, your CAMHS worker will talk with you about what happens next.
Find out more about the kind of help available from CAMHS
Children, young people and/or parent/carers complete comprehensive questionnaires to aid understanding of their difficulties. This will help us understand all family members’ perspective. Depending on your involvement in the sessions, you may be asked to complete session rating scales, symptom trackers or goal trackers. These all aid clinical practice and are optional to complete. Don’t worry if your answers are different from your child’s, this is often the case and should be discussed with the therapist.
Here’s what one young person told us about their first CAMHS appointment:
“I was very nervous, I had no clue what to expect. I sort of had that funny image of a weird old man with glasses who would ask me very invasive questions and make me feel intimidated, but thankfully my image was completely wrong! Each person I have worked with over the years have all been very lovely, down-to-earth people who make you feel comfortable. I’ve never felt that I’ve had to tell any more than what I’ve been comfortable telling. It’s a safe place to express your feelings and get feedback that you need to help you.”