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Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing
Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing

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2 Getting help from other professionals: making referrals

Some children will develop a mental health condition that is more severe or complex and requires support that goes beyond the skills, knowledge and professional boundaries of those who are already working with the child within their pre-school or school. When this situation arises, a professional may decide that a child is likely to need to access specialist assessment and subsequent interventions such as medication or talk-based therapies.

In Session 1, you learned about the work of CAMHS. These are multidisciplinary teams made up of health and social care professionals who have received additional ‘on-the-job’ training, with many also having postgraduate qualifications in relation to providing comprehensive mental health assessment, treatment and support to children and their families. In order to access CAMHS, a professional – usually a general practitioner, sometimes a school nurse or teacher – can make a referral to a child’s local CAMHS.

A photograph of a therapist holding a clipboard with a drawing of a smiley face on it.
Figure 3 A child having therapy

CAMHS are organised differently around the UK and delivered by the National Health Service. Details of how they are organised in your local area can be found online. As a professional referring a child to CAMHS, or another agency, it is important to involve the parents and gain their consent, so that they are fully aware that a referral is being made. It is also important to provide as many relevant details as possible in the referral letter, using language that is clear and non-judgemental. Involving parents will also help to gather important details and information that will help ensure an accurate referral is made to CAMHS. Given that CAMHS in the UK receive many referrals a year, and that they have limited capacity, some children that are referred are not seen in CAMHS. However, the child’s local CAMHS should be able to identify other forms of support that can be accessed to assist the child and/or their family.