Anxiety is being or feeling worried, stressed or nervous about things and can be as a result of things that have happened to us or having seen things happen to others.

Sometimes it is good to feel anxiety as it protects us from doing things we shouldn’t – or it warns us if we are about to do things that are dangerous.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provide help for children and young people who may be experiencing problems with their emotional or psychological wellbeing.

How do I know if my child has anxiety?

Anxiety affects us all differently – it can make us feel short of breath, give us headaches, stomach aches, affect our concentration, affect our sleeping, affect our toilet habits, make us sweaty, make our hearts beat faster or just generally make us feel on edge.

It is really important that we can try to understand how we are so affected by anxiety and then we can try different ways of managing it. For example:

  • Talking about why or how we feel anxious
  • Trying breathing exercises
  • Distracting ourselves with television, music, exercise, walking, reading, baking, drawing, knitting, sewing, gardening – anything that helps us feel more relaxed

How can I help my child?

It’s difficult to understand what your child is going through if you haven’t experienced it yourself, or why it’s happening to them. You should try and imagine being in their shoes, experiencing what they’re feeling, and not question or doubt them. You should reassure your child that you are there for them, a hug and a kiss can make a world of difference.

Remember that their worrying behaviour may be short lived, all children and young people go through stresses and strains when growing up and everyone reacts to that differently. They will be able to manage this stage better knowing that they can open up to to you and they have the support of their family. Try talking to your child asking how they think you can help – they will have the best ideas to support how they’re feeling.

How can we help?

If the anxiety continues or gets harder to manage, it’s important to ask for more help from a professional such as a school nurse or GP, who can then make a request for service from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

In CAMHS we will often offer talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for anxiety.

What happens next?

Once a request has been accepted we will offer the child or young person an initial assessment either urgently (within 7 days) or within 6 weeks according to need.  The findings at the assessment will inform the next steps – sometimes a single appointment is all that is needed but where a series of appointments will be required specialist intervention will be indicated.

The child or young person will be assigned a clinician with the appropriate skills and will work in partnership with the child or young person and their family to define, agree and work towards their goals.

Self referral

You can now self-refer your child into this service. For more information please view this guide on how to self refer.

For details of what the service supports and what supporting documentation you require for your referral, please view the request criteria page.

What is the process?

Location of Centres

We will arrange to see you at a location convenient to you or near to your home, which may or may not be listed below. You should not visit the locations below unless we have sent you an appointment and requested that you do. If you need help please contact us using the number on this page.

Emergency Number

0345 600 0388 is the telephone number for out of hours emergencies – this number is provided by Devon County Council Children & Young People’s Services (Emergency Duty Team).

If you are worried about your child out of normal working hours and think you need additional help in an emergency, please use this telephone number. If you or your child is in imminent danger please go directly to your local A&E or ring the police.

0345 600 0388


Children & Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Bittern Road
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW

t: 0330 0245 321