It is preferable that children and adolescents requiring in-patient care for mental health problems are managed in age-appropriate facilities. To achieve this, nine specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in-patient units have been commissioned in New South Wales (NSW) since 2002.
To examine trends in child and adolescent in-patient admissions since the opening of these CAMHS units.
Analysis of separation data for under 18-year-olds to CAMHS, adult mental health and paediatric units for the period 2002 to 2013 in NSW, comparing districts with and without specialist CAMHS units.
Separations from CAMHS, adult and paediatric units rose with time, but there was no interaction between time and health district type (with/without CAMHS unit). Five of eight health districts experienced increased separations of under 18-year-olds from adult units in the year of opening a CAMHS unit. Separations from related paediatric units increased in three of seven health districts.
Opening CAMHS units may be followed by a temporary increase in separations of young people from adult units, but it does not influence the flow of patients to non-CAMHS facilities in the longer term.
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