Tips for young people leaving CAMHS
Leaving CAMHS can feel like a really difficult experience. Especially if there are lots of other experiences going on for you right now, like:
- Leaving school, or going back to school if you've been unwell
- Sitting exams or studying
- Having relationship problems with people close to you
- Moving to a new place for university or college
- Thinking about what you might do for a job
- Moving to Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) or another adult service
Whether you're continuing to get support for your mental health, or being discharged, our tips can help you feel better about leaving CAMHS.
This information is for young people leaving Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS, or SCAMHS in Wales) for any reason.
Before your appointments, you could plan a few questions to ask your care team about what to expect when you leave. Understanding what's going on can help you feel more in control.
What questions could I ask my CAMHS team?
There are no right or wrong questions, but here are some ideas to get you started. If you don't feel comfortable, you could ask a trusted adult or advocate to ask for you.
- At what age will CAMHS stop supporting me in my area?
- What type of adult services are available in my area?
- If I don't go to AMHS, what other kinds of support are there?
- Where can I find a copy of the policy you use for moving from CAMHS to AMHS?
- If you live in England: am I under the Care Programme Approach (CPA)?
- Can I see my care plan?
I was left in limbo without knowing when I was moving and how the process worked.
If you're leaving CAMHS to move to adult services like AMHS, you can sometimes see lots of different health professionals. You might find it hard to keep telling your story and explaining what you need to different people.
Try writing down what you want the people supporting you to know, like:
- Things you like about your current treatment and support
- Things that are important to you for your treatment and support
- Things you've found difficult at CAMHS and want to see change
- Therapies or treatments you've tried and found helpful or unhelpful
- The types of support or treatment you want
- Your hopes for your future mental health and wellbeing
You could do this by filling out a transition passport.
So 6 months before you're 18, that's when they're meant to start getting it all ready. I specifically said I didn't want a certain psychiatrist when I transferred. To be fair, they made that happen so I didn't have to see them.
Before you leave CAMHS, filling in a passport helps you share what you want the people supporting you to know. You can list your needs and tell them what's important to you.
We have 2 types of passport templates. You can download and fill in whichever is best for your plans after leaving CAMHS:
They should give you something like this in SCAMHS in Wales anyway, but young people in England can also keep a written record using our template.
Download your ‘transition to AMHS’ passport:
You can share your passport with your CAMHS team. Ask them to keep a copy on your records – they can send it to any new people working with you in AMHS.
If you live in Wales, you can also have a look at this more detailed example of a Young Person's Transition Passport.
The whole process was overwhelming but I'm grateful for how my team managed it. They really tried to make things as easy as possible for me.
When you're leaving CAMHS for any reason, it's important to have as much support as you can. This might be your friends, partners, family members, carers or guardians. You can also ask for support from trusted professionals like the staff at CAMHS, teachers or social workers.
To build and keep up your support network, try to:
- Keep talking. Sometimes letting people know what's going on and how you're feeling can make things a little easier.
- Tell others how they can help. You might just want them to be there when you need them, or for practical things like going to appointments with you.
- Ask for help if you need it. This can feel hard, but it's important to let people around you know when you're finding things difficult.
- Talk to your CAMHS team. If you're feeling really worried about leaving a service, tell someone in your CAMHS team. They can talk things through with you.
- Explore other support options. These could be online, over the phone, or in your local area. For more information, see our page on finding support for young people. If you're over 18, you can read our adult information on seeking help for a mental health problem.
What if I don't have anyone to talk to?
Sometimes we can find it difficult talking to people close to us about our mental health. Or we might not have anyone we can talk to.
If you ever need someone to talk to, you can speak to someone confidentially by phone, text or webchat. The people in these organisations are trained to listen and support you:
- Childline. Runs a free 24-hour helpline, email service, and online and phone counselling service for children and young people. They can also provide Welsh-speaking counsellors.
- The Mix. Offers a helpline, email, live chat, telephone counselling service and crisis textline for anyone under 25.
To find more organisations that offer support, see our list of useful contacts for young people.
It helps to ensure you have a support network around you of people you can trust. Know how to be there for yourself when your mental health gets difficult. Establish strategies that work for you before you leave CAMHS.
Speaking to other young people who have been through similar experiences can really help. They might be able to give you advice and help you to feel less alone.
On message boards, you can:
- Ask questions
- Share thoughts
- Ask others about their experiences
You might find that some people have gone through experiences like yours. This can feel reassuring, even if it's not a good experience.
Some young people we spoke to described leaving CAMHS in different ways. These are the sorts of things you might learn from speaking to others:
Leaving CAMHS was a big step for me. I had to learn to take care of my own mental health and become my own counsellor. It was hard at first, but it helped me become more resilient and less reliant on others to soothe me when I got stressed.
I left CAMHS when I was 18 and was moved onto another local support organisation. This process was quite hard for me, particularly because the 2 people who looked after me and were in charge of my care were both away.
I was discharged by CAMHS before self-referring to local psychological therapy services. The wait times on those have been longer than child and adolescent services.
During the leaving process, I wasn't told what to do if I needed help in the future or how to go about re-referral.
It was quite hurtful to feel like you're being turned away from CAMHS after being with them for over 4 years.
Whether you're being discharged or continuing your support elsewhere, leaving CAMHS can feel like a really difficult time. It's important to be kind to yourself.
During this time, try to:
- Talk to someone you trust about how you feel. This could be a friend or trusted adult. For ideas on how to start the conversation, see our page on opening up to others.
- Do things that help you relax. Like listening to music, reading or watching your favourite films.
- Do things you enjoy. Like making time for your favourite hobby, or spending time with people you love.
- Build a self-care box. Fill a box with things that bring you comfort when you're feeling low or finding things hard. You can include things that you like doing or things that help you relax.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
These are services that support young people with their mental health.
You might see them called different names sometimes, but they offer the same type of services for young people:
- In Wales, they're called Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (SCAMHS)
- In England or Wales, you might also hear them called Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS)
Find out more in our CAMHS information hub.
Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS)
These are NHS services that support adults with mental health problems.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
These are the people look after you when you're getting treatment and support for your mental health problem. Your care team might include nurses, doctors and therapists.
They may look after you in hospital, support you through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), or look after you at home.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
An advocate is someone who can listen to you and help make sure your voice is heard in decisions about you.
In some situations, you will have a right to have an advocate. This is called statutory advocacy.
Even if you don’t have a right to an advocate, there are other types of advocacy that can support you to get your voice heard.
See our page on advocacy for more information.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is a document that sets out how an organisation will act in certain situations. For example, a transition policy should explain how an organisation will manage a young person leaving their services.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
The name for a plan that explains your mental health problem, what treatment and support you need, and who will provide that support. Care plans might also cover what should happen if you're in a mental health crisis.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is when someone moves on from a children’s service to an adult service. For example, when someone moves on from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS).
See our page on moving to adult services for more information.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This means your treatment at a hospital, clinic or other service is ending. You may be discharged because:
- you’ve completed your treatment
- you’re old enough to use a different service
- you’ve asked to leave
- the next part of your treatment needs to continue somewhere else.
Your care team should explain what this means, and what will happen if you need care in the future.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is a request to a service asking them to review:
- how you’re feeling
- what support you need.
The referral helps explain to the new service why they should see you, and what the best way to help you might be.
Sometimes referrals can be made by yourself, a family member or social worker. But they’re often made by your doctor as they understand your medical history.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is treatment that aims to help improve your mental health and wellbeing. There are lots of different types of therapies. Here are some commons ones you might have heard of:
- talking therapies
- creative therapies
- ecotherapy (being in or around nature)
- medication (also called drug therapy).
This is a trained professional who runs or supervises your therapy. Therapists help you explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving, and what can help you in the future.
There are different types of training and education for therapists. This means they all have different titles, like psychologist, therapist, counsellor or psychiatrist.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
Confidentiality is about keeping your information private.
It means that when you talk to professionals they shouldn’t tell anyone else what you’ve said.
They will only share what you tell them in certain situations. For example, if you ask them to or if they’re worried that you or someone else could be in danger.
See our page on confidentiality for more information.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
- talk through a problem or situation that is negatively affecting your mental health
- recognise how it affects you
- work out positive coping strategies or ways to make the situation better.
It may be face-to-face, over the phone or over video call.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
Counsellors listen to you and give you a safe space to explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving. They also help you find ways to cope with things.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This information was published in December 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
The quotes on this page are from young people we spoke to while making this information. They've given us their consent to use their quotes in our information. The words, experiences and opinions in the quotes are not related to the young people shown in any of the photographs we use.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.