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A guide on what to expect when moving from child to adult mental health services and what do do if things don't go the way they should.
Moving from CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to Adult Mental Health Services, sometimes called 'transition', can feel like a really worrying and uncertain time.
We’re here to help you understand what should happen and where to find support if you’re having any problems.
We have information on:
When you leave CAMHS, your CAMHS team will either:
If you’re being referred to any adult service, your CAMHS team should start planning this at least 6 months before you leave. They should:
Your CAMHS team should talk all of this through with you and any referral to adult services should be made before you leave CAMHS.
England and Wales have slightly different rules and processes if you're moving from CAMHS to Adult Mental health Services. There can be also big differences in the way different CAMHS manage the move. But you should always be told about what to expect and have your views listened to.
England and Wales have slightly different rules and processes if you're moving from CAMHS to Adult Mental health Services. There can be also big differences in the way different CAMHS manage the move. But you should always be told about what to expect, and have your views listened to.
If you're moving to Adult Mental Health Services, you should be under something called the 'Care Programme Approach' (CPA). This is a package of support provided by the NHS for people who have a mental health problem.
This means you should have:
If you have a CPA care plan, it will not end when you move to Adult Mental Health Services. It will only end when you and your mental health team believe it is no longer needed.
If you're not sure whether you're under the CPA plan, or have not been given a written copy of your care plan, you should speak to someone in your CAMHS team.
When moving to Adult Mental Health Services, you should be given:
If you're discharged from CAMHS and not referred to Adult Mental Health Services, but feel your mental health is getting worse, you have a legal right to ask Adult Mental Health Services to reassess you. You can ask for this when you turn 18 (as long as you have left CAMHS in the last 3 years) and you don’t have to speak to your doctor first.
When CAMHS discharge you, they must give you written information about your right to a reassessment.
"My CAMHS team were really good at helping me get support from adult services but the transition from child to adult services still felt like a really big change."
When Adult Mental Health Services get your referral from CAMHS, they will need to find out about the support you need and decide whether their service is right for you. They can do this by:
If there are specific things you want them to know, you should ask the person managing your move to adult services about the best way to tell them.
If they think their service is right for you, they will get in touch to give you an appointment.
Every mental health service is slightly different but some people find that Adult Mental Health Services can be quite different from CAMHS.
You might find:
The difference between child and adult services can sometimes feel quite scary and overwhelming. See our page on ‘What I can do’ for ideas of things that might make things feel a little easier.
To find out about the support options available when you turn 18, you can see our guide on seeking help for adults.
If you're staying in hospital as an in-patient, planning to move to adult services should start 6 months before you turn 18. The plan should explain what happens when you turn 18, like:
Sometimes you might be allowed to stay on the adolescent ward until you're discharged, but this depends on the hospital.
Sectioning is when you are kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983. You can be sectioned if you are at risk of hurting yourself, or to protect other people.
Sometimes being sectioned gives you a legal right to support. If you have been sectioned under section 3, 37, 47 or 48, you have a legal right to support called section 117 aftercare.
Section 117 support will be personal to you, depending on what support you need to stop your mental health from getting worse. This right to support doesn't end when you leave CAMHS so your legal right to the support you need will not change when you move to adult services.
"In a strange sort of way, I was lucky. I had a legal right to treatment with adult services, and a team of professionals fighting my corner."
This information was published in June 2019. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.