Mental health service transitions for young people


You can get lost in the system. The processes involved make it difficult to access services - there should be clearer protocols so young people are never left without support.(3)

This guide is for all staff working with young people with mental health problems who may need to move from one service to another - that is, to make a 'transition'. It will be of particular use for frontline staff, managers and commissioners providing services to young people aged 16-18 who may need to make the transition from CAMHS to AMHS or other services for young people and adults.

Policy concerns about mental health service transitions for young people are longstanding. Despite evidence of some promising and innovative practice, this is a serious issue for young people, their families, practitioners and policy-makers, both in the UK and abroad.

Evidence that young people often struggle to move between services, and in particular that they are poorly supported when they are referred by CAMHS to AMHS, has been highlighted in a number of government reports and policy guidance. (4, 5, 6) Reviews in Northern Ireland also highlight the need for good interagency working  and arrangements to facilitate the transition of young people from CAMHS to adult mental health services. (25)

In February 2011, the coalition government published a mental health outcomes strategy, 'No health without mental health', (7) which states that service transition from CAMHS to adult services can be improved by planning early, listening to young people, providing appropriate and accessible information and focusing on outcomes and joint commissioning. In Northern Ireland the DHSSPS published a Service Framework for Mental Health and Wellbeing; Standard 31 of the Framework outlines good practice in transitions from CAMHS to adult mental health services. (26)

The final part of this section sets out the top 10 principles for supporting young people in transition.