www.mentalhealthservices.org.nz | Specialty  | Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service

Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service

Nau mai ki te Ratonga Hauora Hinengaro mo te Tamaiti me te Taiohi, (RHHTT)

The Child and Adolescent MHS (CAMHS) is a community mental health and addiction service provided by Capital and Coast District Health Board to provide specialist mental health and addiciton services for children and adolescents and their families between the ages of 0 - 19 years.  We have three teams based in Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti.  We also provide consultation services for agencies working with children and youth with primary mental health disorders.  In addition, there are alcohol and drug clinicians based within CAMHS providing services to all teams.

There are Maori and Pacific Island child and adolescent mental health services, also part of Capital and Coast DHB, which provide culturally appropriate assessment and intervention for Maori and Pacific Island tangata whaiora/consumers and families.  If you would prefer to access these services please phone  04 385 5999.

Te Tautokotanga me te Taunakitanga

You are welcome to bring a support person or advocate to any meeting you have with us.

An advocate is someone who works on your behalf to make sure you get the services you are entitled to and that your feelings and needs are heard.

Advocacy and support services are provided by the Wellington Mental Health Consumers Union, ph: 04-801 7769.

We also recommend family members contact Atareira ( Supporting Families). They provide a range of information, advocacy and support for families/whanau and friends of people experiencing mental illness on a one-to-one or group basis (ph: 04-499 1049).

Contact Details

 For all team details please go to the How to Find us Page

What is Mental Health?

The World Health Organization states that : “Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Why Come to CAMHS?

He aha te Aromatai?

Here at CAMHS we offer a space to think together about what has been happening, whether there are mental health issues and how your needs can best be met. There are various reasons why people come to CAMHS, sometimes parents are having difficulty with a child's behaviour and would like to identify the issues underlying the problem. Sometimes there may be stress for other reasons such as family or relationship problems, bullying, school exams or exposure to violence. Coming to CAMHS does not mean the person is ‘crazy or psycho', but it does mean there are people worried about a young person and their behaviour. It is important to remember that getting help is one of the steps towards making things better.

"You don't need to be embarrassed to come to this service. Having help doesn't make you less of a person."

16 year old female service user comment

The first thing we do in our service is invite you along to what we call a ‘Choice Appointment'. At this appointment we will talk with you and (if possible) your family or other people who know you well, and try to be clear about what has been happening. Where younger children are involved we always meet with parents and caregivers, we also often talk to the school or preschool to get a more complete picture (with permission). We decide together what you need from our service, or whether what you need can be better provided by another service or organisation. If we decide at the Choice Appointment that the issues are suggestive of a moderate to severe mental health issue, or that what is happening significantly affects your or your family's quality of life we will then offer you an appointment with a case manager to follow on from the work done at the Choice appointment. (This may be for a further assessment and or treatment). We will also begin to help you look at ways in which you could start to build upon your strengths and make positive changes. Together we will create a 'plan' that you can take away with you to work on prior to your next appointment.

A plan may focus on :

  • Strategies to support resiliency (coping abilities) and recovery
  • Helping you and your family/whanau, and other important people better understand the situation that is causing distress
  • Building upon your strengths (both individually and as a family)
  • Linking you in with other people and services who might also be able to help

A case manager will be your main contact at CAMHS and is responsible for coordinating the care you receive from us.

Who is in the Team?

Ko wai ma kei to matou Kapa?

We have a range of professionals  that all have core skills in assessment and therapeutic intervention (treatment) of children,  young people and their families and whanau. These professionals also have some specific skills related to their profession or specialist training. The professionals are a mix of  administration, alcohol & drug workers, employment consultants, family therapists, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, nurses and  social workers.  We work together in what is called an MDT (multi-disciplinary team). We are also part of a teaching hospital and so trainees are an integral part of our teams.

How Can We Help You?

Pehea ta matou awhina i a koe?

We work with you and your family, whanau or support people to address issues in various areas of life. These may include:

  • family, friends and other supports
  • cultural needs and cultural identity
  • physical health
  • thoughts and feelings
  • lifestyle
  • work and study choices

We discuss therapeutic options with you and your family, whanau or support people and, together, decide the best course forward.  These options may include:

Alcohol and drug assessment and treatment

We have specialist drug and alcohol counsellors who can discuss issues related to drugs and alcohol and provide education, support and counselling.


Sometimes we work with other agencies (schools, kindergartens, activity centres, GPs, Public Health Nurses) in order to provide the best possible care to you. We always ask permission of you and your family, whanau or support people  before contacting other agencies or people.

Employment advice

If required, our employment consultant works with you to explore work or study opportunities.

Family Services

We sometimes offer family therapy as a treatment method.  We are also available to meet with members of the family individually.


We run several kinds of groups for people of different ages. Group activities include peer support,  day and overnight trips, education and group discussions, social skills and outdoor activities.


An important part of what we do together is to learn more about the problem and behaviour and the things that may trigger it, or make it worse. We can also provide written material about a range of problems that may be affecting you and your family. We have pamphlets on depression, anxiety, stress, temper tantrums, self esteem, etc.  Brochures are available at our offices or telephone us to request this information.

Individual psychotherapy and counselling

Experiencing mental health and addiction issues usually generates a great number of questions and can lead to a variety of mixed thoughts and feelings. Talking through those thoughts and feelings with someone who understands what you are going through can usually help. All our staff are experienced at doing this and are more than happy to take the time to talk. Staff have particular skills in helping people sort through distressing or problematic thoughts and feelings, and working with them to develop more helpful ways of dealing with things.

"They can help you to help yourself”
17 year old male service user comment


People with mental health and or addiction issues sometimes benefit from medication as part of their treatment. If this is the case for you, the doctor you meet with will check your general health and discuss the option of medication with you, explaining all the pros and cons. They will meet with you regularly to see how you are doing and if you have been prescribed medication, they will check how it is working.

“If you need medication it’s okay”
15 year old female service user comment

Parent Consultancy Group

A group of parents who have used our service meet every six weeks to provide advice and consultation on ways to improve CAMHS.  New members are always welcome; if interested,  please ask for the date of our next meeting.

Youth Consultancy Group

This group meets once a term for 13—20 year old people, past and current clients, who have made progress.  The group has a supportive function as well as providing a forum to feed back information about how to improve the service. 

“It can be a chemical imbalance”
19 year old male service user comment

What Other Services are Available to Help?

Etahi atu ratonga kei te watea hei awhina?

There are other services in the community and on the internet that you may find helpful while you are waiting to meet with someone from our service.

Youthline   A telephone service that supports young people in all sorts of situations.  Contact: 0800 376 633 or 382 8828 4-11pm every day
Parent Help      A 24 hour telephone support and information service for parents who have questions about their child, or are in need of support.   Contact: 499 9994
Evolve                                   A youth support health service. Weekdays 11.00am to  6.00pm, 6 Eva Street, Wellington.  Contact: 801 9150
Skylight                                 Helping young people deal with times of change, loss and grief. There may be a fee for this service.  Contact: 0800 299 100
Catholic Social Services       Provides counselling for individuals of all ages. There may be a fee for this service.
Contact: 385 8642
Parents Incorporated            Workshops, books and a quarterly magazine.  Contact: 09 524 0025
www.trippin.co.nz Youth focused site with information about a variety of mental health and sexual health issues. 
www.mentalhealth.org.nz Recommended for carers and parents of children and youth who are experiencing mental health difficulties. 
www.parenting.org.nz Run by Parents Incorporated, with a special section for teenagers called  ATTITUDE. 
www.thelowdown.co.nz Helping young Kiwis understand and deal with depression

 You may ring our staff for a more comprehensive  list of services on - 237 2860.  

What Do I do in an Emergency or Urgent Situation?

Etahi Ahuatanga Ohorere, Whawhati Tata hoki


  • If you require emergency assistance call the emergency services (Police, Fire or Ambulance) on 111.
  • If there is serious or immediate risk that someone could be harmed, please call 111 and ask for the Police.

Urgent Situations

  • During normal working hours you can call the CAMHS in your area (see contact details on website)
  • After-hours calls telephone the Crisis Assessment and Treatment team on 04 4949169

CATT will help you manage the situation until the clinicians you normally see at CAMHS are available (usually the next working day).  CATT provides feedback to your case manager on all after-hours calls.