Email: info@gettingitrightfirsttime.co.uk

Mental Health - Children and Young People's Services

Children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS*) support under-18s with psychosis, eating disorders and personality disorders and neuro-disabilities such as autism and/or learning disabilities.

In 2019/20, almost 560,000 under-18s received at least one contact from NHS-funded mental health care services in England, and demand for CYPMHS is rising; one in six children aged five to 16 is now identified as having a probable mental disorder, a rise from one in nine in 2017.

GIRFT’s national report offers 21 recommendations to improve pathways and clinical practice, improve overall patient experience, and reduce unwarranted variation. Among them are measures to create better access to intensive community support teams, to ensure acute hospitals are part of the crisis pathway and to reduce the length of time patients spend in a general adolescent unit (GAU).


*CYPMHS is the newer term for CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services). 

Dr Johnny Downs

Mental Health – Children and Young People’s Services Clinical Lead

Johnny is an honorary consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in community CAMHS at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

He is also a senior clinical lecturer and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) clinician scientist at the department of child and adolescent psychiatry, King’s College London (KCL), where he leads the CAMHS Digital Lab: an interdisciplinary team formed as a collaboration between Maudsley BRC Centre for Translational informatics, KCL and Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. The lab combines digital therapies, informatics and epidemiology approaches to enhance mental health care for children and young people.

He is a co-investigator on the NIHR Child and Families Policy Research Unit.

Dr Guy Northover

Former Mental Health – Children and Young People’s Services Clinical Lead and GIRFT national report author

Dr Guy Northover is currently a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist who has been working in Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for the past eight years. He has interests in children and young people’s mental health urgent care services, clinical governance, health informatics and quality improvement.  He holds a post graduate certificate and diploma in systemic therapy.

He has extensive clinical experience of Community and Inpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and has recently taken up the Early Intervention In Psychosis role working out of the Tier 4 inpatient unit. He has experience of service redesign through the development of CAMHS clinical pathways, the new Tier 4 inpatient service and rapid response team, as well as the CAMHS eating disorder service.

Dr Northover is the regional representative for the faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and undertakes the role of Quality Improvement Lead, attending the Royal College of Psychiatry Quality Improvement Committee. He is also an expert advisor for NICE Centre for Guidelines.

Useful information

Solving together: an online conversation about reducing waiting times for children and young people’s mental health services: The NHS has launched a month-long online conversation on children and young people’s mental health, with a focus on gathering learning and ideas on how to improve waiting times and make services more accessible. Using the Solving Together platform, partners involved in the children and young people’s mental health pathway – professionals, children and young people and their families – are invited to have a say, with a focus on collecting ideas and best practice for ways to make NHS services better in the future. Work will then begin with teams across the country to prototype and test the most promising ideas. The conversations are live until 10 November, 2023 – head to https://solvingtogether.crowdicity.com/ to have your say.

Support for children and young people with mental health needs, learning disabilities and/or who are autistic: A resource pack to support the development of local services: NHS England’s Quality Improvement Taskforce has launched a resource pack that aims to improve understanding of the current care and treatment offer for children and young people with mental health needs, learning disabilities and/or who are autistic, with a specific focus on pathways of care into hospital beds, as well as the experience of inpatient care. The resource pack aligns with other programmes of work, including the document Strategic Framework: Children and Young People’s Mental Health (CYPMH) Inpatient Workforce Development, which has been published by HEE this week.

Access resource pack via GIRFT’s FutureNHS workspace

Visit Children & Young People Quality Improvement Taskforce FutureNHS workspace

National framework and operational guidance for autism assessment services:  NHSE has shared guidance intended to help integrated care boards deliver improved outcomes in all-age autism assessment pathways. This includes a national framework with ten principles for autism assessment services and guidance about applying these principles throughout the commissioning cycle. It also includes operational guidance, intended to guide strategic decision making about the range of autism assessment service that should be provided in each area.

GIRFT national report aims to improve access to care for children and young people with mental health disorders

Ensuring more children and young people receive the right mental health care, in the right place for them, is among the key aims of the new national report from the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) team. 

Improving the mental health of children and young people is a priority in the Long Term Plan (LTP), with GIRFT’s recommendations aligning and working closely with the Quality Improvement Taskforce, which was established in 2019 to improve specialist CYP inpatient mental health, autism and/or learning disability services in England. 

The report’s recommendations for freeing up inpatient capacity for those who most need it, through continued investment in community services.

Find out more about GIRFT’s data-led approach and best practice resources:

In April 2022, GIRFT published its national speciality report for Mental Health – Children and Young People’s Services:

Click above to view the pdf report (via Future NHS)

Watch the video about the Mental Health Children and Young People’s Services report…

Click above to play the Mental Health Children and Young People’s Services national report video

Mental Health - Children and Young People's Services Academy Resources