Mental health

Nurse in green walking along Bear Ward corridor

Mental health affects how well we feel, and how we cope with the obstacles and challenges we face in life. 

Some young people experience mental health difficulties and the symptoms can interfere with their day-to-day life. Mental health difficulties can affect things like your concentration, your relationships and your ability to communicate with others or get to school or college.

If you're experiencing severe mental health difficulties, or your local health care team would like you to have a more specialist assessment, you may be referred to the Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (DCAMHS) at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).


Mental health difficulties can affect anyone – it’s not the person’s fault and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Even if you’re experiencing mild mental health difficulties, there’s plenty of mental health support for young people out there, such as Young Minds. You can talk to your doctor too.

Being referred to DCAMHS

You may be referred to DCAMS for specialist help with your mental health condition. The team treats things like:

DCAMHS supports young people with autism and Asperger's syndrome too. It also runs the Mildred Creak Unit  a safe place for you to stay where trained staff take care of you and help you manage your mental health.

What to expect

You’ll be supported by one, or sometimes a number, of the DCAMHS team:

  • Family therapists – he or she will help you and your family to consider each other’s perspectives, experiences and beliefs.
  • Psychiatrists – a medically qualified doctor who has specialist training in mental health.
  • Psychologists – to help you understand why you’re feeling or acting in a certain way and to offer practical support.
  • Child and adolescent psychotherapists – they will help you understand your emotions and behaviour by thinking in depth with you about your relationships.
  • Social workers – to try and make things less stressful for you and your family while you’re being treated at GOSH, and to help you access the right services and support outside of hospital.
  • Doctors – there are many types of doctors at GOSH, each trained for their specialty, to help make sure you always get the best care.
  • Specialist nurses – medically trained and mental health trained staff who specialise in a particular difficulty. They may take part in your assessment or offer you and your family a range of interventions.  


You may take part in a number of assessments after you have been referred to GOSH. Types of assessment commonly offered by DCAMHS include:

  • Cognitive assessment– an IQ test completed by a psychologist to help them to understand how you learn, in case you need any extra support at school.
  • Observation (ADOS) – involves talking and playing some games to help the team understand how you interact with others.
  • Family assessment– a chance for you and your family to talk about what works well at home and anything that you may find difficult. 
  • Parent assessment– when your parents talk to the team about your development, such as what you were like when you were younger and how things are for you now.


You may have a combination of therapies while you’re being treated at GOSH to help you best manage your mental health condition. Mental health treatments offered by DCAMHS include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy – aims to change any thinking or behaviour patterns you have which might be making your difficulties worse.
  • Psychotherapy – helps people find new ways to think about how their feelings and thoughts are connected to their behaviour.
  • Medication – some mental health conditions can be treated with medication, such as antidepressants or sedatives.
  • Family therapy – involves working both with individuals and people who are important to them.
  • EMDR therapy – helps people dealing with troubling memories of difficult experiences they may have had in the past.