Enhancing CAMHS Referrals Project (EN-CAMHS)


EN-CAMHS is responding to an urgent need to improve the referral process into CAMHS (children and adolescents mental health services).  At present 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).

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 are we going to do?

EN-CAMHS 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 the challenges and pain points within the CAMHS referral process and suggest potential digital solutions to some of these problems.

How are we going to achieve this?

We collaborated with 9 CAMHS sites across the North of England to obtain referral data from the past 5 years. We conducted a series of focus groups with over 100 key CAMHS stakeholders from across the UK, therefore representing the experience of service users and carers at a national level.

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 problems with the CAMHS referral process first-hand, so were able to reflect on the impact that these had.

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.  

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. 

Group of business workers standing with hands together doing symbol at the office

Dissemination Events

We held two dissemination events in January 2023. The first of these was a roundtable discussion in London which involved professionals who can facilitate service and policy changes.

The second event held in Manchester was attended by over 60 key CAMHS stakeholders. This event was followed by a roundtable discussion with professionals involved in supporting and developing CAMHS in North West England.

We were supported in both dissemination events by one of our fantastic collaborators – MQ Mental Health Research.

The artwork below was created by Rowan, a scribe who attended the Manchester Dissemination Event. Rowan visually captured the discussions which occurred throughout the day!