Get help now Make a donation

Tips for managing leaving CAMHS

Tips and ideas to help young people who are in the process of leaving CAMHS.

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.

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.

If you only want information about leaving to move to Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS), see our pages on moving to AMHS and problems with your move.

I'm getting support from CAMHS for the first time

Understanding CAMHS

Ask your CAMHS team for information

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?
  • Who will manage my move to AMHS?
  • How often will I meet someone to discuss the plans for my move?
  • Do I have a transition plan and can I see it?
  • Which types of support and treatment will I be referred for?
  • Who can I talk to if I feel my mental health getting worse after discharge?
  • Can I still get referred to AMHS in the future?
  • Can you refer me to any other services for adults?
  • What other types of support can I find in the community?
  • Can I be re-assessed by CAMHS if I need to?

I was left in limbo without knowing when I was moving and how the process worked.

Tell your CAMHS team what's important for your care

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.

Fill in a ‘passport’ to share your experiences

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:

You might want to share this with your GP or another health professional, like a therapist.

Download your ‘moving on from CAMHS’ passport:

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.

Build your support network

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.

Find tips and ideas on taking care of yourself

Tips for looking after your wellbeing

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 webchat and email helpline, crisis textline, 1-2-1 online chat and video, webchat or phone counselling service for anyone needing support.

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.

Speak to others who have left 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.

If you don't know anyone, you can speak to other young people on message boards online, like The Mix and Childline.

On message boards, you can:

  • Ask questions
  • Share thoughts
  • Ask others about their experiences

If you're looking for support online, make sure you stay safe. Always think about what you feel okay with sharing and what you want to keep private.

You can find information on how to do this on the Childline website.

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.

Look after your wellbeing

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.

For more information and tips for when you're struggling, see our pages on finding support and looking after your wellbeing.

Problems with leaving CAMHS

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.

For more information

arrow_upwardBack to Top