What is CAMH?
For this playbook, CAMH is defined on a continuum and as a capacity rather than a dichotomy. Thus, all children and adolescents have mental health—and their mental health can be built, nurtured, promoted, and protected.
- Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones, acquiring healthy social skills, and learning how to cope when there are problems.
- Mentally healthy children and adolescents have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities.
- The mental health of children and adolescents can vary over time, in different conditions, and at different ages.
In contrast with the above definition of mental health, mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day. Many children occasionally experience fears and worries or display disruptive behaviors. If symptoms are serious and persistent and interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with a mental disorder. Children who don’t have a mental disorder might differ in how well they are doing, and children who have the same diagnosed mental disorder might also differ from one another. For example, their developmental and coping strengths and weaknesses—along with quality of life—may vary. Recognizing mental health as a continuum and identifying specific mental disorders are both ways to understand how well children are doing.