Mental Health

Family with distressed child

All of us, children, young people and adults have mental health and it is important to look after it, like we would any other part of our body.  If you are having mental health problems though, you're not alone. One in four of us will have problems with our mental health at some point in our lives; but there are lots of things that you can do to keep your mind healthy and well.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) provides child and adolescent mental health services for children and young people up to age 17 who are experiencing mental health and/or emotional problems and their families.  Children with a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD or a moderate to severe learning disability can access mental health support from the Neurodevelopmental Service, CAMHS up to the age of 18 years.

If you have concerns about a child (without a neurodevelopmental diagnosis) under the age of 17 you will need to ask your GP to refer your child to these specialist services. For youngsters up to the age of 18 years with a neurodevelopmental diagnosis you can seek a referral from their GP or school.

If you are 18 or older then will need to ask your GP to refer you to adults’ services. 

Mental Health crisis

Mental Health Crisis

CPFT have a First Response Service (FRS) for people of any age who are distressed, worried about their mental health or experiencing something that makes them feel unsafe. It provides 24-hour access, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to mental health care, advice and support.   Find out more about the First Response Service.  

Tier based mental health support

Tier based Mental Health Services

Support for mental health problems for all children and young people is Tier based

Tier 1 – Universal mental health services provided by professionals who do not specialise in mental health e.g. Teachers.

Tier 2 – Mental health services provided by practitioners who specialise in mental health e.g. counsellors.

Tier 3 – Specialist Child and Young People’s Mental Health Services, CYPMHs / CAMHs

Tier 4 – Inpatient / Highly specialised mental health services. 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) provides child and adolescent mental health services for children and young people up to age 17 who are experiencing emotional and behavioural problems and their families. They also support young people up to the age of 18 who have a learning disability and associated mental health problems. If you have concerns about a child under the age of 17 you will need to ask your GP to refer your child to these specialist services. If you are under 18 and have a learning disability you will either access children’s services or will need a referral from your GP. If you are 18 or older then will need to ask your GP to refer you to adults’ services.

Details of what is provided at each Tier in Cambridgeshire are set out below but there is also a service directory of all local NHS Mental Health Services in Cambridgeshire.

Children with learning disabilities and or autism are being identified nationally as being at greater risk of being inpatients in hospitals for their mental health. Please send the section under Tiers 3 and 4 to read more about the work being done to help avoid admissions to hospital where it is avoidable.

Tier 1 in Cambridgeshire

If you have concerns about your child talk to the class teacher and SENCO or your GP who can offer support and things to try.

Keep Your Head brings together good, reliable information on mental health and wellbeing for children and young people as well as their families and carers.

YoungMinds offers free confidential online and telephone support to anyone worried about the emotional and mental wellbeing of a child or young person up to the age of 25. You can call the free parents' helpline on 0808 802 5544 from 9.30 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday or look at the Young Minds website. 

Tier 2 in Cambridgeshire

Kooth is a free online service that offers emotional and mental health support for children and young people aged 11 – 19. Children and young people can have a "drop-in" chat with a counsellor or therapist or book a one-to-one session. No referral is needed to access this service – it's self-serve.

New Partnership for delivering children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing services

A new partnership is bringing together emotional wellbeing services across the county for children, young people and their families, to improve access and support.

From 1 July 2021, local services will be provided by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) under a partnership agreement with Cambridgeshire Community Service NHS Trust, Centre 33 and Ormiston Families. Together they will bring their expertise to support children and young people aged 0-25 with their mental health and wellbeing.  

Children and young people will continue to receive mental health and emotional support during the transition of services to the new partnership, and we would like to reassure patients that they will continue to get the same level of care as they do now. Patients who will be seen by the new integrated service will be contacted in due course. 

Tier 3

There is a range of services for those who experience moderate to severe mental health issues. The Children and Adolescents Mental Health (CAMH) Service work with those experiencing anxiety, low mood, depression, self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorders, psychosis and the effects of trauma.

The CAMHS Single Point of Access accepts referrals from all professionals working with children and young people up to the age of 17 (or 18 if they have a suspected eating disorder or a neurodevelopmental diagnosis) who are registered with a GP in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdon, Fenland or Peterborough and are:

For Cambridge/Huntingdon we only accept referrals for assessment of secondary age children. For primary age see community paediatricians by clicking on the link.

CAMHS referral Jan 2020 Current.docx [docx] 315KB  

Tiers 3 and 4

Preventing Inappropriate Admissions to mental health hospitals for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).

The NHS has committed to significantly reducing the number of children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both being cared for in an inpatient facility/hospital. There is help and support to work to help children and young people be treated and supported from home. The NHS working with the Eastern Region Parent Carer Forums has written a parent carer guide to these services:

Dynamic Support Registers of Children / Young People who need extra support

Local health and social care services need to know who is most at risk of inappropriate responses by services. NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough must now have a register of children and young people who have a Learning Disability, Autism or both and are at risk of going into, or are in, inpatient mental health settings. This is part of Building the Right Support. The register, called the Dynamic Support Register (DSR) should help children, young people and adults get the support they need before their problems get too serious and certainly before they need to go to the hospital.

Your child, young person or adult should be on this register if they:

  • Are currently in a hospital setting;
  • Are referred for or accessing specialised services for challenging behaviour (e.g. intensive support services, specialist short breaks, special schools, residential care and supported living);
  • Are subject to the provisions of the Mental Health Act or subject to Deprivation of Liberty safeguards;
  • Have had a previous hospital stay (for example, within the last 5 years);
  • Are/were involved with the youth or criminal justice system (for example, within the last 12 months);
  • are children in 52-week educational placements;
  • are in receipt of NHS Continuing Health care (CHC) funding;
  • are in receipt of services from youth offending teams (YOT).

Children and young people up to the age of 18 who need extra support (see the list on page 4) have the right to a Care, Education, Treatment review (CETR). A CETR should start when hospital admission is being considered. You also have the right to ask for a CETR for your child or young person at any time if you have concerns about a placement breakdown, if there is a crisis or if there is a risk of inpatient admission.

If your young person is over 18, this will be called a Care Treatment Review (CTR).

CETRs are for children and young people who have learning disabilities and/or autism and who have been, or maybe about to be admitted to a specialist mental health hospital (Tier 3 or Tier 4). The CETR makes sure that local services (social care, Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team and school or college) are involved so all issues can be addressed and solutions found.

The NHS, together with Local Authorities are moving towards the aim of having one person, a Keyworker, as the central point of contact for a child or young person with a learning disability, autism or both who has a mental health condition, and their family members and carers, and the services involved in their care. At the moment in the East of England, the Keyworkers are part of an 18-month pilot project running in just two areas - Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes and Hertfordshire. Keyworkers in these pilot areas will only be for a small number of children and young people who: 

  • Have been diagnosed with a learning disability and/ or autism;
  • Are under 18 years old or have yet to move to adult services;
  • Are you currently an inpatient in a mental health hospital, or are considered to be at risk of hospital admission.

Tier 4 in Cambridgeshire

There are a number of specialist in-patient units across Cambridgeshire that may treat our children and young people: occasionally specialist places are used further afield. Admission to these specialist units is made by the doctors and clinicians that are supporting the child or young person. Some admissions are planned and some may be emergency admissions.


Keep Your Head

Information on mental health

Growing up and moving into adulthood can be challenging.

This can affect how you feel and have an impact on your well-being and mental health.

Visit the Keep Your Head website which brings together good reliable up to date information on mental health and well-being for children and young people, parents/carers and professionals.


You are not alone

Whether you're feeling sad, anxious, or finding life hard, know that you are not alone.  Kooth is a community to support young people.  Find out more here.

Centre 33

Supporting young people

Supporting young people up to the age of 25 with mental health, caring responsibilities, housing, sexual health and more.   Find out more on the Centre 33 website,

Bitesize workshops for anybody working with young people in the Cambridgeshire or Peterborough area

Centre 33 Young Carers Service will be running the following bitesize workshops for anybody working with young people in the Cambridgeshire or Peterborough area.

These digital workshops address key topics in a focussed way. Lasting just 45 minutes to 1 hour, the live sessions will guide you through the common subjects young carers are telling us are important to them.


Emotional wellbeing and mental health

YOUnited offers help to ALL young people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough aged up to 17 with the support of a professional.

Referrals can be made to YOUnited by a GP or any professional working with children or young people.

YOUnited is a partnership

YOUnited is a partnership between four organisations. CPFT for Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust for Children’s Wellbeing Practitioners, Centre 33 and Ormiston Families for counselling & guided self-help.

All referrals are triaged and assessed by specialist staff from YOUnited who then work with children and young people, as well as their family or carers if necessary, on the best pathway to support their needs.

Self referral 

Young people aged 18 to 25 can self-refer to Centre 33 here or self-refer to MIND's Good Life Service here.

View more details on the YOUnited webpage

Lifeline Plus

Helpline for people aged 18+

A mental health and wellbeing helpline for people aged 18 and over living in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is available Monday-Friday between 9am-2pm via freephone 0808 808 2121


Supporting individuals who are in mental distress

Lifecraft support those in mental distress are operate a helpline between 2pm-11pm and can be reached using the same freephone number as Lifeline on 0808 808 2121.


Online support

Qwell offers online wellbeing support, including educational and self help articles and peer to peer forums. For more information see their website

This May Help

Being the parent of a teenager can be tough at times, particularly when it comes to mental health.

The mental health advice in these films is practical. These are things you can do that can help to improve the situation you may be in.

The films were developed by parents, carers and service users who got together to share their own experiences. They spoke to experts by experience, service and ex-service users, community mental health nurses, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) doctors and qualified professionals to work out the best and most helpful practical advice possible.

What helped others may also help you.

View the films on this page

Suicide - help for individuals and families

Mental Health Crisis

CPFT has a First Response Service (FRS) for people of any age who are distressed, worried about their mental health, or experiencing something that makes them feel unsafe. It provides 24-hour access, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to mental health care, advice and support.   Find out more about the First Response Service.

Whatever the mental or physical health diagnosis, if the person you care for has talked about suicide it’s important you take them seriously. In a crisis, help is available 24/7 from the Samaritans on 116 123. In an emergency, call 999. The Zero Suicide Alliance offers free online suicide prevention training which takes just 20 minutes to complete. Offering the right type of support to someone who is feeling suicidal is crucial. LivingWorks, a leading provider of suicide-alertness training, advises following the acronym TALK:


Someone who is feeling suicidal will be telling you how they feel but perhaps not very directly so be aware of the signs and learn to read them. Do not dismiss them or trivialize them


If you think someone is considering suicide always ask them. You can’t give them the idea of suicide simply by asking, and it is important that you do ask. If they say ‘no’ you haven’t lost anything, and if they say ‘yes’ you have a chance to help.


Don’t rush them or judge. Tell them ‘this is important. Don’t try to offer solutions, just listen. Listening stops people from feeling alone, gives hope, and provides an emotional release.


Don't promise secrecy, but don’t leave someone feeling suicidal on their own. Keep yourself and them safe.

Most people who feel suicidal simply want to end their pain, not their life. Many people who have had suicidal thoughts and/or made a suicide attempt look back later and say they are glad to have survived and that the right intervention at the right moment made all the difference. There is nothing inevitable about suicide. It is often a question of knowing how to help and support someone through a crisis. More help is also available from these organizations:

CALM Helplineis dedicated to preventing male suicide and offers confidential emotional support for men through their helpline. Telephone: 0800 58 58 58. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles. Webchat (5pm-midnight)

Grassroots is a suicide prevention charity.

Maytree Sanctuary is open to anyone in a suicidal crisis for a one-off short stay in a safe place. The service is free, and it is open to anyone in the UK. It offers a quiet place to reflect and time to talk in confidence. Telephone: 0207 263 7070

Papyrus Hope line UK is a national confidential helpline for young people at risk of suicide. Telephone: 0800 068 41 41

Samaritans  Call 116 123. This is a free 24-hour helpline and offers a safe place to talk.

STOP Suicide is an award-winning suicide prevention campaign that reaches Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It is led by the charitiesMindand Lifecraft in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, and Fenland.

The MindEd Trust is a Registered Charity that is focused on the prevention of mental illness in young people and early intervention strategies for those experiencing trauma.


Related Services

  1. Kooth
  2. Centre 33
  3. YOUnited
  4. Qwell

External Links

  1. In a Crisis - First Response Service


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