Support for children and young people struggling with their mental health

8th October 2021

With World Mental Health Day approaching on Sunday (10 October), Dorset HealthCare is making sure children and young people who are struggling have the support they need.

The last 18 months have been a challenging and disruptive time for young people, with the pandemic, school closures and lockdowns having a real impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

And the Trust has responded by making its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) easier – and quicker – to access, as well as providing more mental health support in local schools.

Late last year, a CAMHS ‘Gateway’ service was established, providing prompt assessments and – where appropriate – early interventions to help young people with issues such as depression, anxiety, isolation and self-image.

It also allows anyone aged 16-18 to refer themselves direct to CAMHS, without going through their GP.

Since the CAMHS Gateway was launched in the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch area it has helped more than 2,000 young people, and is now being rolled out to the rest of Dorset.

Clare Hurley, Dorset HealthCare’s Head of CAMHS, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on how people lead their lives.

“Children and young people had to adapt quickly to not being able to socialise with friends, attend school or college – and were then expected to return to the ‘new normal’ when restrictions eased, causing some anxiety.

“We are delighted to make the CAMHS Gateway available across the whole county. Often a brief, early intervention when someone is feeling low or struggling with a problem can help that person recover and prevent a more serious deterioration in their mental health.

 “And by enabling older teenagers to refer themselves directly, we hope this will encourage them to manage their mental health and seek professional support if they need it.”

One user of the CAMHS Gateway service said:

“Using the Gateway was an excellent positive experience for me, and a huge step forward for my recovery.”

In addition, support is available for school-age children through a Mental Health Teams in Schools pilot service.

The service focuses on the emotional wellbeing of pupils, and children can access it by speaking to their school’s mental health lead. It has been running in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Blandford and Gillingham for over 12 months, and will be expanded to other schools across the county at the end of this year.

Clare added:

“Now children are back at school, it’s more important than ever they receive quick access to support as a preventative method of support and intervention due to the potential effects of the pandemic.”

Find out more about the Gateway and Mental Health Teams in Schools, plus other CAMHS services, by visiting

Dorset HealthCare offers a wide range of mental health support for all ages – visit to find out more or call the Trust’s 24/7 Connection phone line (0800 652 0190 or NHS 111) for urgent support.

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