Leaving Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS, or SCAMHS in Wales) can feel like a really scary and uncertain time. You might move onto Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS), or you might have to get support from other adult services.
On this page we talk about adult services as well as AMHS. They're not exactly the same thing – AMHS is an example of an adult service. CAMHS can move your support to AMHS, or they might help you find support from another adult service.
There are lots of examples of other adult services, like:
- Mental health support organisations in the community
- Services from your local authority
- Local or national services, like charities
My nurse at CAMHS has informed me once I am 18, I will be moving to adult services if I feel the need to. She assured me that they are just as helpful and supportive.
Most CAMHS offer support to young people up to the age of 18. But every service is different:
- Some CAMHS might start your transition to Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) from the age of 16, others might support you until you're 25.
- The age limit can be different if you live in certain areas of England or Wales. It also depends on the service and the type of support you're getting.
- If you stay at CAMHS past 18, your support should be suited to your older age group.
If you're not sure what age you'll leave at, you can ask your CAMHS team at any time. If you think they've stopped helping you too soon, you should contact the person in charge of your care.
Remember, the age can be different for everyone. Some of the young people we spoke to said:
I think the idea in my area was to try and get people to adult services at 16. I was definitely the youngest person being seen in adult services when I was there.
I have friends who are 18 who are still with CAMHS and their treatment is better. I think it also depends on the area that you're in.
Different young people leave CAMHS for different reasons. When you leave CAMHS, your care team will do one of the following.
Refer you to AMHS for a first appointment
This helps them decide if they can offer you support. You'll only be referred to AMHS if you're old enough to access these in your area. Usually this is at 18, but you could be referred if you're about to turn 18. For more information, see our page about moving to AMHS.
This means if you and your CAMHS team agree that you're well enough, your mental health support from CAMHS will end. This could happen at any age. They should give you information on other types of support and what to do if things get worse.
On this page you can read more about understanding discharge.
Direct you to other services
- Your doctor
- Social services
- Charity organisations
You could also look at options for private therapy, if you can afford it. If you're 18 or over, see our page on finding a therapist.
You can be discharged from CAMHS at any age. This just means your support at CAMHS is ending. You may be discharged for reasons like:
- You've finished your treatment and you and your team have agreed that you can manage your mental health without their help.
- You're old enough to use AMHS or other adult services instead, or nearly at that age.
- You've asked to leave, or you've decided to stop doing your treatment. Your team will probably want to discuss this with you before they discharge you.
No matter what age you are, discharge can feel scary because you can't be sure about getting support when you need it.
But you can also see discharge as a good thing. It might mean you and your care team agree your mental health and wellbeing has improved a lot since you've been with CAMHS.
You might not feel 100% ready to leave, and that's okay.
If you are leaving CAMHS in general, it's not because they don't want you or you're fine – that is unlikely to be the case. It may just be that you're in a safe enough place to leave.
Being discharged from CAMHS can be a really positive step in your recovery. It usually means your mental health has improved a lot. If you're discharged, before you leave your team should give you information on:
- Other types of support, like local organisations and helplines
- What to do if things get worse
If CAMHS discharge you but you don't agree with the decision, see our page on problems I might face.
I was only discharged once I felt ready, and it was a decision that was discussed with me. I felt really happy to not need the support anymore – I felt I had overcome a lot!
- Give you information to understand the referral process.
- Give you information about the support that adult services might offer you.
- Involve you in making plans and listen to your views.
- Put someone in charge of managing your move, if you're moving from CAMHS to AMHS. They're usually called a care co-ordinator in England, or a transition worker in Wales.
- Prepare a plan of what you need and what support you should get once you move to adult services.
They should talk through all of this with you in advance.
Your CAMHS team should start planning your move to adult services at least 6 months before you leave. Any referral to adult services should be made before you leave CAMHS.
Some of the young people we spoke to said:
I was told about my transition to adult services around 4 months before I was meant to move. I was also told about another local service for eating disorders, and why I was leaving CAMHS.
I had the conversation with the head co-ordinator about a year before my transition to adult services. They explained to me what will happen and what the plan in place was.
It can be really helpful to write down your past experiences of CAMHS, as well as your hopes for the future. For ways to do this, see our information about filling in a ‘passport’ when leaving CAMHS.
CAMHS encourage parents, carers and guardians to be involved in your treatment and support. This includes coming to the end of your CAMHS treatment and support.
Someone at CAMHS should ask how much you want them to be involved. Whatever you say should be respected.
Either way, it can help to have people you trust around you – but it doesn't have to be a parent, carer or guardian. You can ask a friend, partner or another family member to be involved.
What if I don't want them to know?
This means your personal information shouldn't be shared with your family, carers or guardians unless you agree or in certain situations. To find out more about confidentiality and your rights, see our page on understanding confidentiality.
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
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 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 your main point of contact if you’re having ongoing treatment and support for your mental health. They should keep in close contact with you and answer any questions you may have.Visit our full treatment and support glossary
This is any information that can be used to identify you. For example, your name, address or even your IP address.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
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 is the local government for an area. It provides services for the people who live or are staying in the area. These include health services, social services, schools, transport and housing.
Each local government can decide how services are run. This means that some services in different areas may have different rules.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.