Ask Sam letter


To Sam


Hi Sam,

So, last year I decided to stop working with CAMHS as it was making my anxiety go through the roof, and making me self harm as i couldn’t cope. They sent me a letter saying if i was sent back to CAMHS they would refer me to the adult mental health service.

However, i’m unsure of their procedures or practises. I don’t know what powers they have over their patients and do their powers vary as i’m only 15.

Thanks for reading.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

CAMHS stands for Child and adolescent mental health services. You'll often be referred to them if you're a young person struggling with your mental health. It would be unusual for a young person to use an adult mental health service but that may happen if there is better availability or the support they can offer's better for you.

If you're struggling with self harm and anxiety it's really important to speak to someone you trust and get advice on how to cope.

It can help to think of mental health services as voluntary support. For most people the help that CAMHS gives is voluntary. You don't have to be there and they don't have the power to make you be there. For people with very serious mental health issues there are laws that the local authority can use to force you to get help, but this is very rare. Almost everyone is there by choice and it's a chance to get the support you need.

Most mental health support works in a similar way whether it's adult or young people. CAMHS are confidential and can keep what you talk about between you and them, but they may need to tell someone if you tell them you or another person are at risk of harm. You should be involved in the decision about who gets told things and if your parents or carers need to be involved they should talk to you about this as well.

If you're 15 it's likely you'll still be with CAMHS and you can always ask why it is that you're being offered adult services instead. It's often a good first step think about what your goal is and what do you want to happen. Once you have a better understanding of where you're going it can be easier to start that journey.

Remember our Childline counsellors are always here for you if you want to talk.

I hope this has helped, thanks for your letter.

Take care,


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