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CAMH service tiers

Children and young people who are experiencing difficulties that could be related to their mental health are usually first identified within Tier 1 services, for example by a teacher, GP or health visitor . Similarly, parents/carers who identify that their child is experiencing difficulties will usually first seek help from services at that level. Children and young people with an identified need may be subsequently referred into specialist CAMH services (falling within Tiers 2–4) for assessment and intervention if necessary.

In Scotland, CAMH services are generally delivered through a tiered model of service organisation, as shown in the diagram below:










The  following describes in more detail the services provided at each tier of CAMH service operation.

Tier 1

Child and adolescent mental health services at Tier 1 are provided by practitioners working in universal services who are not mental health specialists. This includes:

  • GPs
  • health visitors
  • school nurses
  • teachers
  • social workers, and
  • youth justice workers and voluntary agencies.

Tier 1 practitioners are able to offer general advice and treatment for less severe problems. They contribute towards mental health promotion, identify problems early in the child or young person’s development and refer to more specialist services.

Tier 2

Mental health practitioners at Tier 2 level tend to be CAMH specialists working in teams in community and primary care settings (although many will also work as part of Tier 3 services). They can include, for example:

  • mental health professionals employed to deliver primary mental health work, and
  • psychologists and counsellors working in GP practices, paediatric clinics, schools and youth services.

Tier 2 practitioners offer consultation to families and other practitioners. They identify severe or complex needs requiring more specialist intervention, assessment (which may lead to treatment at a different tier), and training to practitioners at Tier 1 level.

Tier 3

Tier 3 services are usually multidisciplniary teams or services working in a community mental health setting or a child and adolescent psychiatry outpatient service, providing a service for children and young people with more severe, complex and persistent disorders. Team members are likely to include:

  • child and adolescent psychiatrists
  • social workers
  • clinical psychologists
  • community psychiatric nurses
  • child psychotherapists
  • occupational therapists, and
  • art, music and drama therapists.

Tier 4

Tier 4 encompasses essential tertiary level services such as intensive community treatment services, day units and inpatient units. These are generally services for the small number of children and young people who are deemed to be at greatest risk (of rapidly declining mental health or serious self harm) and/or who require a period of intensive input for the purposes of assessment and/or treatment. Team members will come from the same professional groups as listed for Tier 3. A consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist or clinical psychologist is likely to have the clinical responsibility for overseeing the assessment, treatment and care for each Tier 4 patient.

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