CAMHS referral: A brief guide


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Page last updated: 17/10/2022

CAMHS referral : HFNE

In this brief guide, we will:

  • discuss the CAMHS referral process and
  • some considerations which you may want to note down so you approach the referral process the right way.

CAMHS referral isn’t as straightforward as you may assume it should be.

The CAMHS referral process could be so outdrawn that most people never end up getting the help they seek as they get tired of waiting or the process just overwhelms them.

How is the CAMHS referral done?

The CAMHS referral is annoyingly different for every location as the specialists or treatments they have at hand may differ.

Your first point of call when looking to refer someone to CAMHS should be to search for the CAMHS locations within your region and inquire with the different CAMHS locations to find out if they offer the kind of help you may be seeking.

The CAMHS referral process will require you to fill in some forms which you must do with the child.

The forms are very exhaustive and ask a lot of questions in regards to the child’s mental health and how they react or feel to certain situations.

Based on the type of help you require, you may need to get a referral from a GP as some treatments require a GP to refer you based on their professional opinion.

This means you might not always be able to refer a child to the treatment you see fit.

These are extreme examples but in the case of a paediatrician, you will need a GPs referral whilst in the case of Autism you will be able to process your CAMHS referral without a GP.

CAMHS referral: A brief guide

If you are not the child or young person being referred, their parent or their carer you will need consent from their parents before you can refer them to CAMHS.

Once the CAMHS referral form is filled and sent to the respective location, you will hear back based on the level of urgency indicated on the form.

If the matter is urgent you will usually hear back within 7 days but if it is an emergency then please call 999 and seek help immediately.

What information is needed when you make a CAMHS referral?

You must complete a single point of letter from and in some cases also send a letter outlining the following.  

It is best to have the child or young person with you when you draft the letter so it can be as accurate as possible.

  • Current concerns / problems?
  • What are the triggers for seeking help at this moment in time?
  • How long has the problem existed, how severe is it, and how does it impact on the
  • child/young person’s family, education, work,  lifestyle?
  • Relevant psychosocial and family issues including who is in the family or
  • Are there any important people in the kinship system?
  • How has the child/young person response to previous attempts to help?
  • Is the child/ young person/family aware of and consent to the referral?
  • Are there any other?

Different locations may have different requests for their letter if they require one but the above gives a fair representation of the information which may be required from you upon a CAMHS referral.

How can a CAMHS referral be made?

A CAMHS referral can be made via

  • Web portal
  • Post
  • Phone
  • Or by visiting the CAMHS location

The CAMHS referral could take quite a while to kick in as the NHS is known to be very overworked in this department.

This means you could hear back within 5- 8 months in some cases and in extreme cases even more than a year could pass.

Who can make a referral to CAMHS?

Social workers making a CAMHS referral:

Referrals can usually be made by social workers but different locations will have their own requirements and terms.

In any case, consent will need to be sought first from the parents, guardians or the student if they are eligible before contacting CAMHS.

Schools making a CAMHS referral:

Referrals can be accepted by schools but most CAMHS locations will expect that the school must have first intervened and tried to resolve the issue before making the recommendation.

Most CAMHS locations will only take referrals from the school nurse or the Paediatrician.

Consent will need to be sought first from the parents, guardians or the student if they are eligible before contacting CAMHS.

GPs making a CAMhS referral:

The GP, nurse or health staff will need to have attempted some form of intervention before recommending the child and in any case, they must seek  Consent from the parents, guardians or the student if they are eligible before contacting CAMHS.

Using the HFNE app whilst you process your CAMHS referral

If you want to slowly look after your mental wellbeing you could start with our Half Full Not Empty (HFNE) app.

The HFNE app helps you track and manage your wellbeing whilst providing you with a secure community where you could discuss with peers, ask questions to trained mental health counsellors and offer help to other people who may be going through similar issues as you.