About CAMHS

Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provide a range of services in the local community to children, adolescents and their families with a range of difficulties that seriously impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The majority of services are delivered by community based teams, providing treatment and care close to people's homes. Some services are delivered from hospital in inpatient settings.

We have a range of professionals with the skills needed to assess, treat and provide ongoing evaluation of children, young people and their families.

The professionals that are employed in CAMHS include child psychiatrists, clinical and counselling psychologists, specialised social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians, psychotherapists, family therapists and specialist nurses. Teams work together and consult with each other on a regular basis.

What we do

We provide support and specialist treatment, and work closely with infants, children, young people and their families who find it hard to cope with family life, school or the wider world. We offer assessment, education and treatment services for a range of mental health difficulties such as:

  • anxiety disorders
  • attachment disorders
  • autism spectrum disorders - specifically assisting with assessment of mental health related problems
  • eating disorders
  • major depression and mood disorders
  • mental health concerns in pregnancy and following birth psychosis
  • severe emotional trauma and adjustment problems
  • suicide risk and self-harm.

How to access programs and services

Referrals can be made by a child or young person, their parents or caregivers, a GP, a health professional or the child's or young person's school.

Call the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for advice, assessment and referral.

The Mental Health Line is a 24-hour telephone service operating 7 days a week across NSW. Trained, professional staff will assess your situation and decide the most appropriate service for referral.

See also Support services contact list for children, teens and young adults

Specialist programs for perinatal infants, children, teens, young people and their families

Family Focused Recovery

The NSW Family Focused Recovery Framework 2020-2025: A framework for NSW Health services replaces the NSW Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) Framework for Mental Health Services 2010-2015 and provides a fresh way forward to guide services in improving support to families where a parent lives with mental health issues and has dependent children through implementing a family focused approach.

A baseline evaluation was undertaken in 2021 to measure the implementation of the framework in Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks.

NSW Family Focused Recovery Framework 2020-2025 – LHD/SHN Component of the Baseline Evaluation – Summary Report (June 2021)

School-Link

NSW School-Link facilitates collaboration between health, education and other services to support school-aged children and young people to achieve optimal mental health and remain engaged in education.

School-Link aims to:

  • Ensure children and young people with mental health concerns are identified early and have appopriate and timely access to wellbeing supports and specialist mental health services
  • Increase collaboration between mental health professionals and education staff in responding to children and young people with mental health concerns
  • Improve the confidence and ability of education staff and mental health professionals in delivering coordinated care to children and young people with mental health concerns

Getting on Track in Time - Got It!

Getting on Track in Time – Got It! is a specialist early intervention mental health program for children in Kindergarten to Year 2 (ages 5-8 years) and their parents and carers.

Got It! is delivered by NSW Health teams in partnership with NSW Department of Education public schools, across two school terms and is designed to reduce the incidence of early behavioural, social and emotional concerns and ultimately the emergence of conduct disorder in young children.

Got It! was initially piloted in NSW from 2011-12 by three Local Health Districts (LHDs) under Keep Them Safe funding. After a successful pilot, funding was extended in 2016-17 across 15 LHD's under the Mental Health Reform initiative.

Program implementation comprises universal screening for all children in Kindergarten to Year 2, comprehensive assessment for at risk students, teacher training and targeted therapeutic group support across two school terms.

Got It! implementation is supported by additional NSW Department of Education funding for each program, allowing for teacher release to participate in the program but also providing for purchase of resources and other program implementation activities.

Got It! teams work collaboratively with education staff, parents/carers and children to provide an evidence-informed approach to address these mental health problems early and help children get on track in time. Evaluation of initial pilot (Plath, 2014) identified positive outcomes, including improvement in behavioural measures for children (sustained at six-eight months), improved parenting skills, and improved engagement of parents with schools and community agencies. An economic assessment (Plath, 2014) concluded the program had a positive net value.

A two-year follow-up study (Plath, 2016) found families and schools reported sustained positive impact of the program, specifically with family relationships, improved child behaviours and parent-school connection. An independent Process Evaluation (Inca Consultants, 2019) highlighted good program reach into NSW schools and other significant program successes such as effective engagement with parents, children and with the Department of Education and sustained program impact and continuance in schools beyond program implementation time.

Aboriginal - Got It!

The NSW Government has funded the innovative Aboriginal Got It! program in South Western Sydney Local Health District, aiming to improve the mental health of Aboriginal children and support Aboriginal children aged 4-8 years who may be at risk of developing future social, emotional and behavioural concerns. The program is a partnership between NSW Health, Department of Education and local Aboriginal communities. This four year pilot (2017-2022) is a cultural adaptation of the Got It! program, with Aboriginal mental health professionals working with parents, carers, children and the school system to deliver the program.

The program also offers cultural awareness training to both school staff and health staff, and aims to strengthen cultural practices in parenting.

The Aboriginal Got It! program supports children (4-8 years of age) to develop positive social and emotional skills and prevent the emergence of severe behavioural problems such as conduct disorder.

Evaluation of the pilot will conclude in June 2022 and will focus on outcomes and impacts of the pilot for South West Sydney communities and inform Got It! work with such families across NSW. Early indications are that engagement of Aboriginal families in schools is improved using this approach.

TeenGot It! (TGI) program

Teen Got It! is a specialist program delivered by Justice Health and the Forensic Mental Health Network (JHFMHN), working in behavioural schools and offering telehealth support to youth and families.

Based on the Got It! program model, TGI! delivers early intervention for young people aged 11-17 years and their families who experience oppositional and conduct problems (disruptive behaviour disorders (DBDs)).

The goal of TGI! is to prevent young people entering the criminal justice system by targeting young people experiencing early violence towards their families and/or risk of school suspension or expulsion. Evaluation of the TGI! Telehealth model is underway, with early indications of positive effect in assisting youth to maintain a relationship with education and improve family connection.

Whole Family Teams

The Whole Family Team is a voluntary child centred, family focused tertiary health service. The service has been established, to address the needs of families where parents have mental health and/or drug and alcohol concerns, identified parenting difficulties and significant child protection concerns.

Whole Family Team clinicians work with families to provide comprehensive assessments and a range of tailored specialist evidence-based interventions, in partnership with other service providers.

Interventions address the impact of parental mental health and drug and alcohol use with the purpose of enhancing the care and safety of children, parenting capacity and sustainable healthy family relationships. This team works within an intensive, time limited model, up to 6 months duration, with the interventions occurring in the family home.

The model of care was informed by the best available evidence regarding interventions for families with complex mental health and drug and alcohol needs and the impact of these problems on the safety of their children.

Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services

Maintaining good mental health before, during and following pregnancy is vital for the health and wellbeing of mothers, their children and families. The perinatal period includes the pregnancy and the early parenting period. Specialist Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services (PIMHS) is a state-wide service for pregnant women and parents of babies (up to 2 years) who experience or are at risk of severe or complex mental illness.

These specialist mental health services provide coordinated care for the women's mental health needs, parenting capacity and parent-infant relationship. PIMHS aims to reduce the impact of mental illness or trauma on the prenatal or caregiving context of the infant.

Clinicians support both the woman and the infant, while assisting the father/co-parent with information and advice. Depending upon the district, PIMHS services may include consultation liaison and/or direct care ranging from clinic-based, home visits or telehealth. When women require an admission to mental health units, clinicians provide in-reach care, while assisting inpatient staff with the infant visits and other perinatal care needs (e.g. breastfeeding). They work closely with maternity, child and family health and mental health services.

The service includes a Statewide Outreach Perinatal Service for mental health (SwOPS-mh) which is a telehealth delivered consultation liaison service for families living in rural and remote districts. Based from Westmead hospital, this service offers consultation to rural-based NSW Health staff caring for their perinatal patients. A PIMH service also operates within the women's prisons for pregnant and new mothers within the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health's integrated maternity service.

For more information, see the Specialist Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services fact sheet.

Mums and Kids Matter

Maintaining good mental health before, during and following pregnancy is vital for the health and wellbeing of mothers, their children and families. The perinatal period includes the pregnancy and the early parenting period.

Mums and Kids Matter is a free community-based perinatal and infant mental health program, delivered by Wesley Mission which offers short-term non-acute residential care, in-home support packages and brokerage. The service supports women from any health district who have complex mental health and psychosocial needs and are parenting young children (under age 5). The program includes tailored care to women and children, to improve parental mental health, quality of parenting, child wellbeing and family relationships. They also provide practical and social support to assist families to find stable housing, childcare and other material needs. The program is governed by NSW Health and funded through the NSW Stronger Communities Investment Unit.

An independent outcomes evaluation was undertaken in 2020 to access program outcomes, support quality improvement and inform future evaluation activities. A summary report is available: Final Summary Outcomes Evaluation Report - Mums and Kids Matter - August 2020

Youth Community Living Support Services (YCLSS)

Youth Community Living Support Service (YCLSS) is a specialist community-based mental health service for young people aged 15 to 24. The program provides case management and psychosocial support, working to promote recovery and positive change. It aims to support the personal recovery of young people with mental illness through tailored community psychosocial support by providing an outreach service, which works with people in their own home or in the community.

Founded on early intervention principles, YCLSS minimises the risk of young people developing chronic disability requiring frequent hospital admissions, long inpatient stays and long-term care. The non-clinical service does this by helping young people to work towards their own recovery-orientated goals such as developing living skills, accessing or remaining in education or employment and linking to other services such as housing or income support.

The voluntary program also aims to assist family and carers in building and maintaining a positive relationship with the young person. Community Managed Organisations deliver the program in partnership with MH-Children and Young People within the NSW Ministry of Health.

'Safeguards' Child and Adolescent Mental Health Response Teams

The Safeguards Teams are a new community-based service for children and adolescents (0-17 years) experiencing acute mental distress, and their support network. Safeguards is initially being established in 11 Local Health Districts and will be rolled out to other locations over the next four years.

Safeguards will proide comprehensive assessment and brief interventions to resolve the immediate crisis, build personal strengths and capabilities, and assist the child/adolescent and their support network to access practical supports. The teams will see children/adolescents either face-to-face, or via telehealth and telephone options depending upon their location and the urgency. Safeguards will generally provide support over six to eight weeks and will then link the young person to local professionals or agencies who can provide ongoing support if needed.

MH-Children and Young People

MH-CYP is a unit of Mental Health Branch, NSW Ministry of Health that provides leadership and support for perinatal, infant, child and youth mental health program and services in NSW.

MH-CYP works collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to support the best use of available evidence, the dissemination of relevant information and the development of meaningful partnerships for service and program development, innovation and quality and safety improvement.


Current as at: Monday 24 October 2022
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch