A critical analysis of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services policy in England



Callaghan J, Fellin LC & Warner-Gale F (2017) A critical analysis of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services policy in England. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 22 (1), pp. 109-127.

Policy on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in England has undergone radical changes in the last 15 years, with far reaching implications for funding models, access to services and service delivery. Using corpus analysis and critical discourse analysis, we explore how childhood, mental health and CAMHS are constituted in 15 policy documents, 9 pre-2010 and 6 post-2010. We trace how these constructions have changed over time and consider the practice implications of these changes. We identify how children’s distress is individualised, through medicalising discourses and shifting understandings of the relationship between socio-economic context and mental health. This is evidenced in a shift from seeing children’s mental health challenges as produced by social and economic inequities to a view that children’s mental health must be addressed early to prevent future socio-economic burden. We consider the implications of CAMHS policies for the relationship between children, families, mental health services and the state. The article concludes by exploring how concepts of ‘parity of esteem’ and ‘stigma reduction’ may inadvertently exacerbate the individualisation of children’s mental health.

Child and adolescent mental health; policy; health inequalities; parity of esteem; stigma; discourse analysis; CAMHS; CAMHS policy

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry: Volume 22, Issue 1

Publication date01/01/2017
Publication date online06/04/2016
Date accepted by journal01/03/2016

People (1)


Professor Jane Callaghan

Professor Jane Callaghan

Director Child Wellbeing & Protection, Social Work