Depression includes feeling sad, having difficulties at school, at home and with friends, feelings that the child or young person might want to hurt or kill themselves. They may also have problems eating or sleeping.

Sometimes depression means that they get angry for no reason, they find it hard to enjoy the things they used to enjoy, and life just doesn’t feel like fun anymore.

Children and young people growing up might feel sad and upset from time to time and this is normal, but they can be more stuck in these feelings if it is depression and they might not know how to change things.

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 is depressed?

We all have to go through the various stresses and strains of life, and some of us deal with that better than others. Often we pass through low moods with the healing of time and support from our family, but sometimes those feelings will not shake.

Children and young people are just as able to become depressed as adults. When those low moods don’t pass, the feelings the child or young person has can hinder their every day life and mood.

Affects of depression can include:

  • loss of interest in school or stopping going altogether
  • crying
  • isolating themselves and locking themselves away in their room
  • complaining of loneliness
  • disruptive or aggressive behaviour
  • becoming argumentative
  • lack of confidence/shyness
  • lack of patience and mood swings

How can I help?

It is important that the child or young person eats regular meals, gets good sleep and exercise. It is always good to talk to someone when they are feeling low and there are many self help books and websites that can help you and them understand depression – please see the links on this page for help.

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?

Most children and young people experience low mood from time to time but if this goes on and is affecting everyday life we can help.

It is important if you think your child is depressed that you talk with them, and you let people know – visit your GP, talk to a friend or discuss with others who have a relationship with your child.

If a request is made for the CAMHS service we will meet and listen to you and your child, and decide together what we need to do next.

It is most likely that your child will be offered some talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help them understand their thoughts feelings and behaviour. Sometimes we will also prescribe a course of antidepressants.

What happens next?

Once a Request for Service 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.

Follow up appointments should be offered within 12 weeks of referral.

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.


Children and Family Health Devon

Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Bittern Road
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW

t: 0330 0245 321