New research reveals reasons behind rejected CAMHS referrals

Date: 27th June 2018
Category: Mental health

Barnardo's Scotland has undertaken an audit of rejected referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to understand further why some children and young people are unable to access specialist services following a referral.

The report uses evidence collected from the experiences of Barnardo's Scotland services who work with children and young people who have had referral rejected. Services highlighted five key reasons why a referral to CAMHS may be rejected and these were:

  • Lack of stability - children and young people who do not present as stable or who are not in a stable placement are likely to have a referral rejected;
  • Lack of engagement;
  • Symptoms not severe enough;
  • Lack of clarity around referral criteria;
  • Service already being provided by another organisation.

Barnardo's therefore recommends that

  • Clearly understood, consistent referral criteria and assessment processes for referrals to CAMHS should be established nationally;
  • Clarification is needed for all professionals and families about what the role, scope and remit of specialist CAMHS is;
  • Consideration should be given to the development of an alternative service to CAMHS which takes a trauma-informed approach.


Evidence that has been collected for the purpose of the report will be used in conjunction with other material gathered as part of the audit, including work being undertaken by the Information Services Division and the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

The audit raises issues that were highlighted in the Concluding Observations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2016 during their review of the UK. These include the collection of data on mental health and mental health services.