Sussex CAMHS has been experiencing a significant increase in the number of referrals since September 2020, due to the pandemic and the easing of lockdown restrictions. The level of need we are experiencing is having an adverse effect on waiting times for initial assessments and treatment.

We appreciate how difficult it is for children and young people, families and carers to be on a waiting list and we are doing everything we can to prioritise and manage this need and ensure that help is offered in a timely way to those that most need it.

All referrals will be reviewed as an initial risk screening within 24 hours (during working hours) but for the majority of referrals there will be a significant period of time where you may not receive contact from the service due to the current volume of demand. We are therefore not in the position to respond to questions or queries regarding appointments or the waiting list. We are grateful for your patience and understanding and for treating our staff with kindness and respect.

When we can help and when other support is available

Below is a general guide to help you decide what may be helpful for your child.

More specific referral guides, actions and resources for worry, low mood, trauma, eating difficulties and behaviour of concern can be found on the parent/carer and professional help sections on this website under the corresponding topic headings.

Links to those topic pages can be found in our referral guidance below.

Nature (type) of difficulties:

  • Common worries or difficulties that many young people experience
  • Difficulties are often situation specific (e.g., happened after a specific event) or last only for a short time
  • Limited impact on daily functioning (e.g., ability to go to or cope at school, play with friends, engage in hobbies or interests)
  • Limited impact on physical or emotional wellbeing
  • Difficulties in line with typical childhood or adolescence

What to do

  • Self-help resources/ guided self-help (things a young person can look at themselves or together with the support of a parent/ carer or professional)
  • Talking to family or friends
  • Support from school/ GP
  • Support from youth organisations
  • A referral to the child and adolescent mental health service should not be considered as a first response. Consider referring to other agencies in the first instance.

Nature (type) of difficulties:

  • Common worries or difficulties which may be causing more distress than would be expected.
  • Level of distress is out of context to the situation/ event/ incident.
  • Episodes of worry, sadness, anger or distress may be more frequent or last longer than anticipated or expected.
  • Some impact on functioning which has lasted at least a few weeks (e.g., ability to go to or cope at school, play with friends, engage in hobbies or interests).

What to do:

  • Follow the Green stage steps AND consider accessing help, advice and support from:
  • School nursing team / pastoral support
  • Counselling services / 1:1 / group support
  • Youth organisations
  • Helplines such as:

Nature (type) of difficulties:

  • Difficulties are severe and enduring (difficulties have lasted longer than several weeks)
  • Significant distress to the young person and or the family / network
  • Significant disruption to daily life and functioning (e.g., ability to go to or cope at school, play with friends, engage in hobbies or interests)
  • Presenting as a risk to themselves or others
  • Despite accessing and trying support in stages Green and Amber, difficulties persist
  • Signs of physical compromise (becoming physically unwell)

What to do:

More help and advice on making a referral is available below.

How to refer to Sussex CAMHS

Sussex CAMHS provides specialist mental health support services. In the majority of cases, it is more beneficial for a child or young person to be referred into our services via a GP, health practitioner or through their school, if they have tried other methods of support and have given these other interventions time to work. More information can be found here.

Our services also accept self-referrals from parents and carers.

You can self-refer to the Brighton & Hove Wellbeing Service, which is the hub for all mental health referrals for young people in Brighton & Hove, including CAMHS.

You can self-refer to the East Sussex Single Point of Advice (SPoA) for young people experiencing social, emotional and mental health difficulties

You can self-refer to the West Sussex Single Point of Access (SPoA), which is for young people aged 4 to 18 who require support with their emotional wellbeing or mental health.

You can self-refer to Early Intervention and Psychosis

Referrals to our Sussex Family Eating Disorder service must come via a GP

  • The nature of the mental health difficulty
  • The impact on daily living (school, family functioning)
  • What has the child or young person stopped doing?
  • How long has it been a problem?
  • Is it getting worse?
  • What has been tried?
  • What or who helps?

Getting support now

If you need advice and support now, the Sussex Mental Health Line can triage, support and signpost children, young people, parents, carers and health professionals, who have concerns or queries regarding mental health and wellbeing.

The Sussex Mental Health Line service is available 24/7. Call 0800 0309 500 or click here for more information.

Many people experience poor mental health at some stage in their life and this can cause difficulties for both the young person and their wider family. With the correct support most people recover fully and are able to manage their mental health better.

Below details some of the support that can help young people with this. Click the relevant button below to support you with what to do next.

Local services and support

There are many services that help young people with emotional and mental health needs. Most young people find these services help them to recover and to manage their emotions/ mental health, without the need for CAMHS support.

Below are a few links that are specific to Sussex, and others providing help across the country.

  • Young Minds – The UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health
  • e-wellbeing – A digital wellbeing service for young people, run by YMCA DownsLink Group, to access the right support and information around their emotional health and wellbeing.
  • Place2Be – A national charity website which provides information and support to schools in the UK
  • Papyrus – Prevention of young people’s suicide in the UK.
  • Hopeline - A confidential support and advice service for children and young people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide.
  • Staying Alive – The Stay Alive free app is a pocket suicide prevention resource, full of information which we hope will help you stay safe. You might find it useful if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.
  • Well Mind – WellMind is a free NHS mental health and wellbeing app designed to help with stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Preventing Suicide in Sussex – Advice for people who may be at risk of suicide, and for concerned family and friends
  • Mood Tools – MoodTools is designed to help combat depression and alleviate negative moods.
  • Calm Zone – The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide.
  • Health Talk – Find out about the experience of depression and low mood in young people by seeing and hearing young people share their personal stories on film
  • Harmless – Harmless is an organisation who works to address and overcome issues related to self-harm and suicide.