Mental Health services for children and young people (CAMHS)

We have been caring for children and young people with mental health conditions for 20 years.

Today, we provide children’s and adolescent mental health services (“CAMHS”) in five of our hospitals.

The conditions we treat include eating disorders and mental health issues such as self-harm and emerging personality disorders. 

We understand the stress and pain felt by patients and their families when a young person is diagnosed with a mental health condition.

If you come here, you’ll be in good hands. Our teams are led by specialist consultant psychiatrists, supported by therapists, nurses, teachers and social workers.

We’re experts at what we do. And we know that compassion is an vital part of medical care.

Though we are a private company, if you come here as a patient all the costs for your care will be covered by the National Health Service.  We also accept some private patients at some of our hospitals.

We offer two services: adolescent psychiatric intensive care  and general adolescent care.

General adolescent care

We offer inpatient care for children and young people with severe mental illness.

This service is for young people aged between 12 and 18.

Most of our patients have long-standing, complex issues to deal with.  They need time in a safe environment to work through their problems.

If you come to stay with us, our consultant-led team will draw up a treatment plan aimed at trying to return you to life back home or in the community as soon as possible.

What about your school work?

We know this can be a worry for patients and their parents.

If you’re an inpatient and still at school, we’ll make sure that your education continues while you’re with us.

Each of our hospitals has a school room and we employ our own teachers who’ll speak to your teachers at home so that you can keep up with the work that your classmates are doing. You can even sit your GCSEs and A-levels while you’re a patient with us.

And, like any other school, ours are monitored by Ofsted, to make sure we’re doing a good job.


Psychiatric Intensive Care service

Our Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (“PICUs”) are designed for young people who are going through a sudden mental health crisis, and who pose a high level of risk to themselves or other people and therefore need immediate inpatient treatment in a safe setting.

This service is for young people aged between 12 and 18.

Our team of consultant psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and nurses are experienced in helping people deal with mental health problems.

All of our patients are here under the Mental Health Act (commonly known as being “sectioned”).

Again, if you are still at school. we will make sure that your education continues while you are in hospital.


Brain injury

We offer five types of care for people with conditions relating to the brain, including those who have had a brain injury or have a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease.

We cater for a broad range of patients – from those who need intense rehabilitation (for example, soon after a serious road accident) through to people getting ready to once more live independently at home. We also offer respite care and residential care.

Our five services are:

  • specialist rehabilitation
  • slow-stream rehabilitation
  • complex disability management
  • symptom management
  • respite care

Specialist rehabilitation

This service is designed for people with a brain injury or another complex neurological condition who would benefit from a short, intensive period of neurological rehabilitation from our specialist teams of consultants, doctors, nurses and therapists.

Some of our patients are here because of a traumatic brain injury. Others have acquired a brain injury through illness, for example as the result of a stroke or an infection.

Patients in specialist rehabilitation might face difficulties talking, thinking, moving around, eating or interacting with others.

Most patients using this type of service are in the very early stages of recovery from their brain injury. They usually arrive with us following emergency treatment at an NHS hospital once they are in a stable condition.

This service may also be suitable for people who have been living with a brain injury for some time but whose condition has changed.

A GP or hospital consultant can organise an assessment to see whether this service would suit you or your loved one.

Conditions treated:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Anoxic brain injury
  • subarachnoid haemorrhage
  • encephalitis or meningitis
  • complex stroke
  • brain tumour

Slow stream rehabilitation

This is a longer period of less intense rehabilitation. It’s designed for people who need time to practise newly learned skills in a variety of everyday situations before returning to live at home. They may or may not have previously had some specialist rehabilitation.

Patients learn the skills of independent living in a safe environment while still benefiting from support from doctors and therapists.

Some of our specialist centres also offer independent living flats, which can really help people to  learn to look after themselves before they return to their family home.

Conditions treated:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Anoxic brain injury
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage
  • Encephalitis or meningitis
  • Complex stroke or
  • Brain tumour

Complex disability management

This residential service is for people who have problems associated with a brain injury or a neurological condition and who can’t be looked after at home, usually because of the high level of nursing care they need.

Patients may also need regular medical investigations or monitoring – services that are not easily available in a normal residential home or in their own home.

Our aim is to help patients participate in everyday activities and to be as independent as they can. They might, for example, receive physiotherapy or help with feeding or walking.

Conditions treated:

  • Motor neurone disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Complicated stroke

Symptom management

This service is sometimes called “palliative care” or “neuropalliative care”.

It focuses on providing relief from pain, discomfort, or stress. It’s about improving a patient’s everyday quality of life.

Symptom management may be suitable for someone who has severe and far-reaching disabilities or who is in the later stages of a progressive neurological condition.

Conditions Treated

  • Motor neurone disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Complicated stroke

Respite care

This service is available to people with a neurological condition who live at home or in supported-living housing but who could benefit from a short stay in a specialist centre.

Respite care can provide a much-needed break for patients’ families. It can also provide an opportunity for a loved one to have their medical needs reassessed.

A note for commissioners

We provide regional and local services. For a breakdown of how the services at our individual hospitals correspond to the British Society Rehabilitation Medicine’s service specifications (“Level 1”, “Level 2A” etc) please see the attached PDF.

BRSM Guidelines




Adult mental health and Learning Disability

Caring for adults with mental illness and learning disability

At Huntercombe, we’ve been looking after people with mental health issues and/ or a learning disability for two decades.

We understand the stress and pain felt by patients and their families when a loved one is first diagnosed with a mental health condition or learning disability.

We also understand the particular difficulties posed by the prospect of dealing with a condition that is long term and which can bring someone into contact with the criminal justice system. 

Some of our patients arrive with a history of criminal offending. Others have been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Where appropriate, we offer men-only and women-only services.

Our aim is to reduce risk, encourage rehabilitation and help patients learn to cope with their condition.

We’re here to support patients to be as independent as they can and to live a life as healthy and fulfilling as possible.

We’re proud of the specialist doctors, nurses and therapists who do so much to change people’s lives for the better.

We help people with a wide range of needs:

Forensic mental health services

We offer treatment to people with mental health problems who have been found guilty of criminal offences (known as “forensic” mental health services).

We believe that everyone should be able to lead a decent, happy life, free from the risk of recurring criminal behaviour.

Everyone receives a treatment plan that is uniquely tailored to their needs. Some people need very specialist treatments – for example, to deal with a history of drug addiction, sex offending or arson.

We help patients build on their own strengths so that they can prepare for a life that is fulfilling and law abiding.

Autistic spectrum conditions

We care for people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions. Some of our patients have been diagnosed as high functioning, others as low functioning. We treat people with Asperger’s syndrome, people with complex needs, people with learning difficulties and those who sometimes display challenging behaviour.

We offer a specialist service for patients with autistic spectrum conditions who arrive here with a history of criminal offending.

Psychiatric intensive care services

Our Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (“PICU”) are designed for people suffering a sudden mental health crisis.

This service is for patients experiencing severe mental distress, who pose a high level of risk to themselves or other people and who need immediate inpatient treatment.

Our experienced consultant psychiatrists, therapists and nurses help people recover from a wide variety of problems, including trauma, psychosis, behavioural and developmental disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Patients can come to us confident that they will be comprehensively assessed and cared for by our multi-disciplinary team.

Once they have stabilised, we will draw up a long-term treatment plan, ideally with the help of the patient and his or her family.

Our aim is for patients to resume life outside hospital as soon as they can.

Eating disorders

At Huntercombe, we care for young people with eating disorders at four of our hospitals.

We treat people with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders every day of the year. Our patients are young women and men aged between 12 and 25.

Most are here as inpatients, others are day patients. We also run an emergency admission programme for patients who need urgent inpatient treatment.

We look after patients with eating disorders at four of our hospitals: Edinburgh, Stafford, Maidenhead and Cotswold Spa.

We’ve a good track record helping people with even the most severe eating disorders – even if treatment has not been successful in the past. And we do our best to make a stay in one of our hospitals not feel like you’re “in hospital”.

Our expert team

We know how painful and stressful it is when a young person has been diagnosed with an eating disorder. We recognise the effect the illness often has on your relationships with your family, friends, even your teachers.

We’ve put together a team of expert doctors, nurses, therapists, dietitians, teachers and social workers who specialise in helping young people with eating disorders.

It’s all they do, day in, day out.

We know how important it is to understand and deal with your feelings rather than just focus on getting your weight right. We keep that at the centre of our thoughts when we draw up your personal treatment plan.

We’ve helped many young people recover from an eating disorder and to go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

Still at school?

People often worry about what will happen to their school work if they need to come and stay in hospital.

If you’re an inpatient and still at school, we’ll make sure that your education continues while you’re with us.

Each of our hospitals has a school room and we employ our own teachers who’ll speak to your teachers at home so that you can keep up with the work that your classmates are doing.

If it’s exam time, you can even sit your GCSEs or A-levels while you’re in hospital.

And, like any other school, our teachers are monitored by OFSTED, to make sure we’re doing a good job.

Who can we help?

We offer different services, depending on how old you are: our “CAMHS specialist eating disorder service”  is for people aged 12-18, and our “young adults” service is for people aged 18-25.

Our CAMHS service operates on an inpatient basis, though we offer shorter stays at our Cotswold Spa hospital if your treatment does not need to be quite so intense.

For young adults, we offer both inpatient treatment and intensive day patient treatment.

Our treatments are aimed at people who have a severe eating disorder that has caused you to lose a large amount of weight (it might have affected your growth too) and to put your health is at risk.

In order to be treated at Huntercombe, you’ll need to have first tried outpatient treatment in your local community (known as “tier 3” treatment).

Most of our patients are here on a voluntary basis but a small proportion are admitted under the Mental Health Act.

We are a private company but the vast majority of our patients do not pay for their own care because the costs are covered by the NHS.

We do, however, also accept some private self-funded patients. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, please contact us.

We follow the Royal College of Physician’s  “Marsipan” guidelines (Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa).

Adult Marsipan checklist

Children with complex problems

We offer two separate services for children and young people with complex health or behavioural problems.

At Granville Lodge in Hartlepool, we care for children and young people up to 18 years old, with complex health problems who cannot be looked after at home.

The young people here often have long-term physical and learning disabilities and require specialist care in order to maintain their health.

At Granville Lodge, we encourage the children we look after to take part in as many everyday activities as possible, including mainstream education.

At Huntercombe House Stockton, we care for young people, aged under 18, whose severe behavioural difficulties make it difficult for them to live at home or go to a mainstream school.

At Stockton we aim to develop their social and educational skills in a safe, secure environment.

This service is suitable for people with learning disabilities who require either long-term or short-term support.

We provide “short break” or “respite” care at both centres to give families and carers a rest.  This also provides the opportunity for the young person to enjoy new experiences and to meet new people.

Conditions we treat

We care for up to 800 patients and residents every day, across more than 25 hospitals and centres.

We treat people with a broad range of conditions. We hope this A-Z guide is useful.

If you have read this guide and are wondering whether or not we can help you or a loved one, please contact one of our centres directly – or email us at

Acquired brain injury

Brain damage caused by events after birth, therefore distinct from congenital injury (during pregnancy) or injury early in life resulting in a learning disability. Typical examples include: trauma, for example from a road traffic accident, fall or assault; anoxic brain injury, due to lack of oxygen to the brain caused by, for example, cardiac arrest, near drowning or carbon monoxide poisoning; hypoglycaemic brain injury, due to, for example, unstable diabetes mellitus; subarachnoid haemorrhage; brain tumour; encephalitis.

Anorexia nervosa

A disorder characterised by low weight, loss of growth in children and specific eating- and weight-related ideas and behaviours.

Asperger’s syndrome

Describes people at the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. People with the condition show significant difficulties in social communication and interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. Attachment Disorder A broad term that describes disorders of mood, behaviour and social relationships which arise from a failure to form normal attachments to primary care-giving figures in early childhood, resulting in problematic social expectations and behaviours.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

A condition in which an individual exhibits a long-standing pattern of difficulty paying attention to others, focusing, listening and following through; also characterised by physical restlessness and impulsiveness.

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)

The autism spectrum, also called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or autism spectrum conditions (ASC), encompasses a range of neuro-developmental conditions that affect social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. It can also be associated with intellectual disabilities. Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties The term covers a broad range of complex difficulties and is used to describe children and young people whose difficulties present a barrier to learning. Features include appearing withdrawn, having poor social skills, hyperactivity and being disruptive.

Binge eating disorder

An eating disorder involving uncontrolled eating of large amounts of food but without vomiting or laxative purging.

Bipolar disorder

A mental disorder characterised by episodes of mania (elated or irritable mood) and depression.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with defects in their appearance which are imagined or exaggerated.

Borderline personality disorder

A prolonged disturbance of personality characterised by impulsive actions, rapidly shifting moods and chaotic relationships. Often there is dependency, separation anxiety, unstable self-image, “black and white” thinking, chronic feelings of emptiness and threats of self-harm.

Bulimia nervosa

The activity of bingeing on large amounts of food, followed by self-induced vomiting.

Cerebral palsy

A loss or deficiency of motor control often with muscle rigidity caused by permanent brain damage present at birth.

Complex needs

A term used to describe children who have exceptional physical and mental healthcare needs. These might include profound impairments in learning and mental functions, communication, motor skills, hearing, vision and self-care.

Conduct disorder

A psychiatric category marked by a repeating pattern of behaviour wherein the rights of others or social norms are violated.

Down’s syndrome

A genetic disorder, affecting one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK, in which an individual inherits an extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional chromosome results in distinct physical and intellectual features.

Dual diagnosis

A term used to describe an individual suffering from a mental illness alongside a substance abuse problem, for example, depression and alcoholism.

Early onset psychosis

A severe mental illness, occurring at an early age, which interferes with an individual’s ability to perform activities of daily life. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusional beliefs, personality changes, social interaction difficulties and thought disorder.

Emerging personality disorder

In adolescence some teenagers have symptoms of personality disorder – e.g. self-harm, mood swings and outbursts of anger. If these problems are more problematic than might be considered normal, treatment might be needed to prevent them persisting into adulthood.


An acute inflammation of the brain caused by either a virus or bacterial infection. Symptoms include fever, headache, confusion and sometimes seizures. The patient is often left with cognitive impairment and memory problems and sometimes behavioural problems.

Huntington’s disease

A progressive neurodegenerative genetic disorder of the central nervous system. The illness typically develops between the age of 30 and 50 and early symptoms include uncontrollable muscular movements, loss of co-ordination, mood changes, memory lapses, depression and lack of concentration.

Hypoxic/anoxic brain injury

A brain injury caused by an interruption to the supply of oxygen to the brain.

Korsakoff’s syndrome

A neurological disorder caused by a lack of Vitamin B1 in the brain, which is commonly seen in patients after chronic alcohol abuse. The main symptoms are amnesia, confabulation (where invented memories are taken as true), lack of insight, apathy, paralysis of eye muscles, tremor and poor conversation.

Learning Disability

This is sometimes called an “intellectual disability”.  An individual with a learning disability has difficulties with everyday tasks such as communicating with others or understanding complicated information.  They often need support to develop new skills, to understand certain information and to mix with other people.


Mania is a state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal and energy levels. It is most often associated with bipolar disorder, where episodes of mania may alternate with episodes of major depression. Mania varies in intensity from mild (hypomania) to full-blown with psychotic features, including hallucinations, delusions, aggression and reckless behaviour.

Mood disorders

Mood is defined as the way an individual feels at a particular time. A mood disorder is a disturbance in an individual’s mood, resulting in lasting changes in behaviour and emotional state including sadness, irritability, anxiety and elation

Motor neurone disease

A progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the motor neurones, in the body resulting in a wasting of muscles and subsequent loss of mobility and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

Multiple sclerosis

The result of damage to the myelin sheath which surrounds nerves in the central nervous system. Symptoms vary from individual to individual but might include difficulties with balance, dizziness, fatigue, visual difficulties, numbness or tingling, bladder and /or bowel problems, difficulties with memory and thinking, stiffness in muscles, emotional changes, tremor, speech and swallowing difficulties.

Narcissistic personality disorder

A disorder of adult personality characterised by unrealistic and grandiose sense of self-importance and worth, manipulation of others for personal benefit and a high need for levels of attention and praise from others.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

An anxiety-related condition, where individuals experience repetitive and intrusive thoughts and images that are difficult to ignore and which result in repetitive behaviours that can be time-consuming and emotionally distressing, for example, excessive hand-washing to avoid germs.

Oppositional defiance disorder (ODD)

A childhood psychiatric disorder with an ongoing pattern of disobedient and hostile childhood behaviour towards authority figures. Temper tantrums, negativism and blaming of others are symptoms of this condition.

Parkinson’s disease

A generative disorder of the central nervous system affecting movement and speech. Tremor is the most apparent and well-known symptom but other symptoms include joint stiffness, slowness of movement and speech and swallowing disturbances. Pervasive Refusal Syndrome Refusal to walk, talk or eat without a physical cause.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

An anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a psychologically traumatic event, for example, a death, which persists for a long period of time. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, chronic irritability or anxiety and avoidance of triggers which remind of the event.

Psychotic disorders

A term given to severe mental disorders that cause abnormal thinking and perceptions. Individuals experience delusions and hallucinations and may show changes in personality.


A serious mental illness which affects thinking, feeling and behaviour which usually starts between the ages of 15 and 35 years. Symptoms include delusions, difficulty in concentrating, hallucinations and a feeling of being controlled.


Intentional injury of self without suicidal intent, including self-injury or self-poisoning. The most common form is skin cutting but other examples include burning, scratching and hair pulling.

Spina bifida

A developmental birth defect that affects the development of the spine and nervous system. It literally means “split” or “open” spine and occurs during pregnancy when the two sides of the embryos spine fail to join together, leaving a gap.

Spinal injury

An injury or trauma to the spinal cord resulting in reduced mobility or feeling.


A loss in brain function(s) due to a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. Early indications of a stroke include sudden-onset face weakness, arm drift and abnormal speech. Patients may be left with weakness in an arm or leg, language problems (dysphasia) or other cognitive impairments and behavioural and emotional problems.

Traumatic brain injury

A brain injury caused initially by trauma to the head.