• Child mental health services;
  • CAMHS; service use

Method:  A third of the children from the 1999 British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Survey were followed up over 3 years. Parents provided summary information on service contacts for emotional, behavioural and concentration difficulties, with more detailed information being obtained by telephone interview for selected subgroups.

Results:  Having a psychiatric disorder predicted substantially increased contact with social services, special educational needs resources, the youth justice system and mental health services (district CAMHS and tier four, but not tier two). Of those children with psychiatric disorders, 58% had been in contact with at least one of these services for help with emotional, behavioural or concentration difficulties, including 23% who had been in contact with mental health services.

Conclusions:  British children attend a wide variety of services for help with emotional, behavioural and concentration difficulties. The proportion seeing specialist mental health services is higher than that generally reported in the research literature.