Family ambassadors are here to support parents or carers of young people on our inpatient CAMHS units.

We are non-clinical professionals with lived experience of inpatient services, who can work with you and the clinical teams and help you navigate the inpatient journey.

We will support you from the point of admission until shortly after discharge, in a way which is flexible and suits your needs.

As a parent or carer, you have a unique perspective on the care needs of your child or young person. We will ensure your voice is heard and that you feel empowered to become an equal partner in your child or young person’s care.

  • Emotional and practical support
  • Accommodation and travel within the area
  • Ensure you are fully involved in the production of a care plan
  • Explaining the purpose of different meetings and preparing for them
  • Support and information after meetings
  • Explaining any legal processes that you may encounter, e.g. The Mental Health Act
  • Understanding the roles of the multidisciplinary team
  • Understanding any ‘jargon’ or unfamiliar clinical terms used
  • Guidance on eligibility for benefits
  • Support during transition to other services
  • Resolving any issues within the unit, through consistent communication with unit staff
  • Written information about a variety of topics
  • Communication with NHS, social care, local authority, education or onward providers
  • Directing you to parent/carer forums and relevant support groups

Local family ambassadors for all inpatient CAMHS services in Greater Manchester

Team email:

Some brief information will be recorded by our family ambassador service, such as dates of contact with you (parents and carers) and the nature of support offered.

This information will be shared between our family ambassadors so that support offered to you is consistent.

With the exception outlined below, no information will be shared outside of the family ambassador service without your consent.

Where there are significant concerns about the welfare or safety of your family member being supported, these will need to be shared, confidentially, with a member of the hospital team.

Wherever possible this will be discussed with you in advance.

CAMHS stands for child and adolescent mental health services. It's a free service run by your local NHS and is made up of medical and mental health professionals. 

More information for parents and carers can be found on these websites:

Young Minds - parents' guide to CAMHS

Childline - CAMHS

During an inpatient admission, a wide range of professionals may be involved in the care and treatment of your child or young person.

The CAMHS team is made up of different mental health professionals with specialised skills and expertise. You and your child might see one member of the team on their own or several of them. There may also be other professionals not listed here. Ask your family ambassador or a member of the ward staff to explain any other roles.


A psychologist can assess your mental health and help you explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They can give you different types of therapy, like talking therapies. There are different types of psychologists you might meet, like clinical psychologists or occupational psychologists.


A psychotherapist can offer talking therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Like psychologists, they can help you to cope better with emotions, and understand the reasons for feelings, thought and actions.

Family therapist

A family therapist works with individuals and families. They will listen to everyone’s perspective and help you make or adapt to changes. They can help you talk through any difficult things as a group or individually.

Creative therapist

A creative therapist uses music, art and sometimes dance or drama to help you express your feelings. They might also encourage creative activities to improve wellbeing and confidence.

(Consultant) psychiatrist

A consultant psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in child and adolescent mental health and has overall medical responsibility. They are also responsible for prescribing medication.

Speech and language therapist

A speech and language therapist helps with communication and talking skills, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.

Mental health nurse / nurse (RMN or registered medical nurse)

A nurse at CAMHS is trained in mental and physical health. They can monitor mental and physical health and carry out physical health checks. They can administer medication, but do not prescribe the medication. A named nurse will work closely with you and your child throughout an admission.

Social worker

A professional with specialist training in child development, family relationships, safeguarding children and child welfare issues, employed by the health service and local authority to work in health.

Care coordinator

A care coordinator will be responsible for organising your treatment and support plan and will be a main point of contact for patients and family members.

Occupational therapist (OT)

A type of therapist who uses play and other activities to help understand and express thoughts and feelings. They may also organise group or individual activities on the ward, as well as off the ward for any group leave outings.

Support worker

Play a key role in directly supporting you using a person-centred approach to offer practical assistance and emotional support.


A dietitian will work alongside other professionals to ensure that your child has an meal plan that meets their nutritional needs. They will also support your child to work towards a healthy relationship with food as part of their care and treatment plan.

We've explained some of the terms and acronyms you might read or hear below. Our colleagues at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have also developed a great jargon buster, which explains some more of these.


An advocate is a person who can help you to understand care and treatment processes and help you make and challenge decisions. Your child will have access to an advocate for themselves who will be a different person to the advocate you have as a parent/carer.

Approved mental health professional (AMHP)

This is a specially trained social worker or nurse. They are responsible for arranging Mental Health Act assessments. They are also responsible for admitting people into hospital if sectioned.


Initial meeting where a CAMHS professional will talk to the child or young person who is unwell, listen to their symptoms and make a decision on how to help them. The young person (and in most cases their family) should be involved in this decision.

Care programme approach (CPA)

This is a way of providing NHS support for people in England who have a mental health problem. It means a patient should have a care co-ordinator and a care plan.

Care plan

This plan explains what treatment and support is needed, and who will provide that support. The plan is designed with you and a health professional (and in most cases their families or carers) when you are first offered support after an assessment. You should be given a copy of your care plan and it should be reviewed regularly.


Care and education treatment review. This is an independent meeting to ensure that care and educational needs are being met for your child/young person. This should take place within two weeks of admission.


An individual who has been given authority to find and purchase local mental health services.


Confidentiality is about keeping your information private. It means that when you talk to professionals, they should not tell anyone else what you have said. They will only share what you tell them in certain situations. For example, if you ask them to or if they are worried that you or someone else could be in danger.


This is when you agree to something, such as going into hospital or having treatment.

Capacity to consent

There are slightly different rules depending on your age but this follows the Mental Capacity Act 2005. You cannot consent to something unless you are competent to (if you are 15 or below), or you have capacity (if you are 16 or above). Being competent or having capacity means that you understand what you are consenting to and what might happen if you say yes or no to it.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is a type of talking therapy with a trained therapist. It can help you look at your thinking patterns and behaviour, to help you find new ways of coping.

Community treatment order (CTO)

This is when you have been discharged from hospital, but you still need to follow certain rules. For example, taking medication or seeing your doctor. If you become unwell, you could be brought back to hospital. You can only be put on a CTO if you have been on certain sections, like 3 or 37. Read more about sections on the Mind website.


Child or young person (under 18 years old)

(Parental) consent

If you are over the age of 16 you are entitled to consent to your own treatment if you have capacity

DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy)

A form of cognitive behaviour therapy, is designed to help people change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving while also accepting who they are."


Dynamic support register. This is a list of people with a learning disability and autistic people who need support and are at risk of going into hospital. A colour coded system measures the level of risk and the register is then used to make sure the right checks are carried out by health and care teams. If your child/young person is already in hospital, they might then have a CETR (see above.)


This is any treatment or support that is given to someone who is unwell. An intervention could be medication, a talking therapy, or an hour spent with a volunteer.

MDT (multi-disciplinary team)

A treatment and support team made up of different professionals. For example, consultant, nurses, therapists, social workers and educational professionals.

Mental health tribunal

An independent group that makes decisions on whether someone can be discharged from hospital. Those involved in a mental health tribunal must look to protect the public, balance the freedom of the individual and consider what is best for the patient.


Is when we involve young people who use our services in making decisions about how we develop and improve our services.


This is a process where you are taken into a hospital, which offers mental health services, against your will, for the safety of yourself and those around you. There are different types of sections according to the Mental Health Act. Read more about sections on the Mind website.


This is when we recommend other support or organisations that may help you.

General adolescent services provide inpatient care without the need for enhanced physical or procedural security measures.

Low secure services support young people with mental and neurodevelopmental disorders at lower, but significant, levels of risk of harm.

Medium secure services support young people with mental and neurodevelopmental disorders - including learning disability and autism - who have a higher level of risk

Psychiatric intensive care units (PICU) help where there is a short-term increase of risk, which can’t be supported on the general CAMHS units

Eating disorder specialist units provide specialist care and treatment for eating disorders.

NHS England #GettingThrough guides

#GettingThrough is a collection of guides created by and for families in collaboration with the NHS, containing important information family members need when their child or young person has been admitted to a CAMHS inpatient unit.

Human Rights in CAMHS

British Institute of Human Rights has developed a guide for young people accessing inpatient mental health services in England.

It is important - but often difficult - to look after your own wellbeing when you are caring for someone else. Looking after yourself means you can better support them too.

These links have more information about mental health, wellbeing, self-care and advice to support yourself as well as your child.

Calm connections - online and face to face support groups, workshops and mindfulness sessions.

MIND - offer a self-care hub where you can access lots of tips and resources to support your own wellbeing.

Anna Freudhave centres in London and Manchester and support young people and families with mental health conditions. Their parent champions have shared more advice about the importance of self-care.

Our CAMHS resources page more links to information about mental health conditions and how you can support your child.


Closed support groups

There are many online support groups where you can ask questions and seek support from other parents/carers. These can be helpful and make you feel less alone in your situation. However, remember that everyone’s situation and experiences are unique to them, and you should not take ‘advice’ from anyone other than your clinical team.

The following groups are on Facebook, are carefully monitored and posts are confidential within the group:

Visit our CAMHS resources page for more information about mental health conditions and advice to support your child. This includes information on:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Bereavement
  • Eating disorders
  • Low mood
  • Self-harm
  • Stress

If you feel you need more urgent or specific support, your local NHS 24/7 crisis mental health line can help.

There are also many other helplines you can call, including Samaritans, SANEline, Campaign Against Living Miserably, and the National Suicide Prevention Helpline. Visit Pennine Care's helplines page for more information.

YoungMinds also have a parent’s helpline and webchat

It can be difficult to cover your expenses when your child/young person is in hospital. Talk to your family ambassador or ward social worker for advice and support.

You and your family may be entitled to benefits relating to your child’s condition and treatment. Some are means tested but not all. The following links may be useful to find out more about your eligibility.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children - help with the extra costs of looking after children under 16 years who need much more looking after than a child of the same age without a disability.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - to help with the extra costs of living for those with a physical or mental health condition, or disability and over 16 years.

fightback4justice - a free advice and advocacy for disability living allowance and personal independence payment. Free advice line and drop-in sessions covering the UK.

Carers allowance - benefits and financial support if you are caring for someone.

Citizens Advice - check what benefits to claim if you are sick or disabled, including advice on benefits such as Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance.

Turn2us - a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially.

Family Fund - offers a range of information and services for carers looking after a disabled or seriously ill child.


You may have already received a lot of information about the ward and your child’s treatment and care plan, but ask your family ambassador about the following if you have not received information, or you would like to go over it together:

  • A copy of the ward welcome pack
  • Getting through booklet
  • Any reasonable adjustments for you and/or your child/young person
  • How you can contact your child
  • Visiting times and procedures including mealtimes
  • A copy of your child’s care plan and individual timetable
  • A list of items that you can and can't bring to the ward.
  • The details of your child’s named nurse and other professionals involved in their care.
  • How often, how and when ward staff will contact you
  • Details of meetings that you will attend, their purpose and who will attend
  • Any cultural considerations for you and your child
  • Any language or access needs for you to receive information.

You may also want to ask if you can see your child’s bedroom.


Read more about the family ambassador programme on the elearning for healthcare website.