Child mental health - sub-specialty

Clinicians specialising in child mental health promote mental wellbeing and work with children and families with mental health difficulties. Access the current syllabus for training in this clinical area, as well as the revised syllabus coming in August/September 2021.

What is a child mental health paediatrician?

A child mental health paediatrician has expertise in promoting mental wellbeing and "parity of esteem" - which is the principle by which mental health must be given equal priority to physical health.

They work with children and young people with mental health difficulties. This includes children with somatisation and complex presentations, behavioural challenges, neurodevelopmental disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, and other mental health presentations.

These paediatricians have a thorough knowledge of theoretical aspects of mental health, including psychological, social and neurobiological aspects, and apply it in a clinical and advisory capacity. They can use the biopsychosocial model and know the range of psychotherapeutic approaches within the multidisciplinary team.

They are involved in developing formulations, managing complex cases and liaising with other mental health specialists, paediatric subspecialists and local teams in order to enhance holistic care. They have the ability to provide specialist regional advice in complex cases.

RCPCH Progress curriculum and syllabi for level 3 training

Since August 2018, trainees in this sub-specialty use the RCPCH Progress level 3 generic syllabus alongside the RCPCH Progress child mental health sub-specialty syllabus. Download both documents below

In addition to the generic learning outcomes for level 3, child mental health trainees must fulfil the following sub-specialty learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrates a thorough knowledge and application of theoretical frameworks in mental health
  • Demonstrates expertise in the diagnosis and management of children with mental and psychological difficulties
  • Effectively promotes mental health and resilience among children, families and communities
  • Provides specialist advice on complex clinical presentations with a mental health component, including the psychological impact on staff members and colleagues
  • Takes a leading role in advocacy for children with mental health difficulties and promotes parity of esteem

Revised syllabus coming in August/September 2021

We spoke with clinicians working in this sub-specialty, and agreed some enhancements to the sub-specialty syllabus. The revised version is approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) for use as of August/September 2021. Download the revised syllabus below

A summary of the changes:

  • Learning Outcome (LO) 3, Key Capability (KC) 1 have been split into two KCs.
  • The Assessment Grid has been updated to reflect the changes to the KCs.

You can find out more about the updates to this and other sub-specialty syllabi. If you have any questions contact us on