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Youth services: meeting the mental health needs of adolescents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 December 2014

N. S. Vyas
Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institutes of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA Department of Psychology, Kingston University London, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, UK
M. Birchwood
Division of Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
S. P. Singh
Division of Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
E-mail address:



Youth mental health services are poised for a paradigm shift. Recent epidemiological evidence confirms the seriousness of adolescence as a risk period for mental ill-health - 50% of all adult mental disorders begin before the age of 16% and 75% before the age of 25. Here, we identify issues with transition of care between CAMHS-AMHS service, and effectiveness of early intervention services.


We provide a selective review providing evidence of adolescence as a risk period, discuss CAMHS-AMHS service transition problems, and discuss avenues for change to implement the early intervention model across youth mental health.


Traditional service structures,with paediatric -adult split at 16–18 years increasingly appear not fit for purpose. A radical redesign of youth mental health services is not only necessary, it is also feasible and achievable, as illustrated by a pilot Birmingham youth service – Youthspace.


Pilot youth mental projects currently underway can help radically redesign the existing child and adolescent services. This will in turn lead to an improvement in the young people's experience of engagement with the services so that they too have a positive future.

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© College of Psychiatrists of Ireland 2014 

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