Enhancing CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) Referrals (EN-CAMHS) 


EN-CAMHS is responding to an urgent need to improve the referral process into CAMHS.  At present that there are long waiting times to access the service and a lack of information about other appropriate sources of support for children and young people (CYP). In 2018/2019 a report was published which highlighted approximately 25% of CYP referred into CAMHS were not accepted for treatment for reasons such as incomplete referral documentation and difficulties knowing when to refer CYP to CAMHS.  

What we want to achieve

The EN-CAMHS project aims to engage key stakeholders to clarify the barriers they face to making appropriate referrals and explore accessible, sustainable digital solutions to these problems. This project will also analyse CAMHS referral data to understand and identify problems.  

How we are doing it

We are collaborating with 11 CAMHS sites across the North of England to obtain referral data from the past 5 years. We have conducted a series of focus groups with over 100 key CAMHS stakeholders (parents/carers, CYP, CAMHS professionals and key referrers into CAMHS) from across the UK, therefore representing the experience of service users and carers at a national level. This data will be analysed to identify the challenges and pain points within the CAMHS referral process and suggest potential digital solutions to some of these problems. 

How we are working with the public on this project 

Over 50 CYP and parents/carers co-designed this project with us. These individuals have experienced the problems with the CAMHS referral process first-hand, so were able to reflect on the impact that these had for both young people and their families. Our Young Person’s Advisory Group (YPAG) and Parent’s and Professional’s Advisory Group (PPAG) have been critical throughout, to ensure that the project continued to reflect the needs of service users and carers and their experiences of the CAMHS referral process.   EN-CAMHS involves service users in exploring both the problems and solutions to enhance referrals into CAMHS.

Therefore, potential solutions will wholeheartedly reflect the needs of service users and carers. We also plan to develop a digital platform that will enable a clear and transparent referral process into CAMHS. This platform will have the ability to be shared nationally whilst responding to local needs and changes to service provision.