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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provide specialist mental health treatment and care to children and young people aged 0-18 years.

What is available?

CAMHS can provide direct care - including assessment and treatment to children and young people who experience mental health concerns, provide advice and support to the child’s parent/caregivers and provide consultation to other services working with the child to provide advice and guidance in supporting the child’s mental health and wellbeing.  

CAMHS can also provide advice and referral for children who require inpatient mental health treatment to specialist service providers with mental health units designed for children. Austin Health provide a statewide inpatient mental health unit for children under 13 years of age.  

CAMHS teams are multidisciplinary and may include professionals such as child psychiatrists, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses.  

 When might CAMHS be involved with young children?

There are times you, a Maternal Child Health Nurse (MCHN) or a doctor may have concerns about the mental health of young children and recommend engaging with CAMHS. The Royal Children’s Hospital identifies the following symptoms which may require further assessment in children aged 0-4years:

  • Consistently not sleeping well or having a change in their sleeping patterns (e.g. More or less than usual)
  • Consistently not wanting to eat (food refusal)
  • Consistently not sleeping well or having a change in their sleeping patterns (e.g. More or less than usual)
  • Being less playful or having limited types of play or games that they like
  • Consistently not wanting to be apart from, a parent or carer (excessive clinginess)
  • Not wanting to make or keep eye contact with you (gaze avoidance)
  • Yelling, kicking, hitting, biting and damaging things around them (it is normal for children to have tantrums at times)
  • Having lots of difficulty calming down when upset.

If you are concerned, please speak to your doctor or MCHN for further advice.  

Individuals can self-refer to CAMHS and do not need a referral from a doctor, however it is recommended speaking with a doctor first to rule out other medical factors.  A GP will also be able to provide useful insights into any medical intervention that has been tried.  

What information is required?

For children in out of home care, you will need to discuss with the child’s allocated child protection worker who needs to consent to the referral and any subsequent intervention or treatment.  

When you speak with the intake worker it will be useful if you can provide the following information:

-Demographic information for the child, including contact information for legal guardians.

-Current concerns for the child, when the concerns started and any medical or allied health intervention which has been utilised to support the child.

-Any relevant medical history, and details of any current medications

-Information about the child’s family relationships, or interactions with peers.   

How to contact CAMHS?

CAMHS programs are located within local public health services, contact your nearest public health service who will connect you with the CAMHS intake worker for your area.