Referral process and criteria: CAMHS, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

A referral to CAMHS must be completed by a GP or a senior social worker or a senior psychologist who is known to the young person being referred.  Your GP will be aware of the referral if it is made by another professional.

It is important that referrals to CAMHS are targeted to the areas where CAMHS can be more helpful. This is in the area of specific mental health difficulties like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, ADHD and psychosis.

Exclusion criteria

There are many issues that can cause distress like learning problems, social problems, behavioural problems and health problems. There are many services available to respond to these issues for young people and their parents like Community Psychology Services, TUSLA, National Educational Psychology Services and local Family Resource Centres.

If the young person’s difficulties are in areas like dyslexia or school refusal then perhaps NEPS is a better service for that. If the issues are primarily social, in terms of a trauma or financial issues in the family, then perhaps a social service like TUSLA or a Family Resource Centre would be the best option. CAMHS gets a lot of referrals every year and therefore it is important that the service is targeted towards difficulties where their interventions are unique so as to be most effective. Therefore issues of moderate to severe mental health difficulties in areas such as mood, anxiety, eating and thought disorders are more suited to a CAMHS team.

Referral Response Times

There are many people who are referred to CAMHS every day and so there is a high demand for the service. Unfortunately in some incidences, this means that people have to wait for an appointment. If you are awaiting an assessment in CAMHS, your GP may be able to direct you toward some local support services like a parenting group or web support to help you while you are waiting to be seen. If your case is viewed by the CAMHS team to be more urgent then it will be prioritised.