If you’re worried about a child or need advice and support for coping with anything affecting your child’s mental health or wellbeing, there are different ways to seek help.
Tips for communicating with your teen
- Aim for good timing – check what you are feeling and what your teen is feeling at the time. Is it a good time to talk or will it become too emotional. Do you need to come back to it at another time?
- Validate their feelings – it is sometimes difficult as a parent to just sit with some of your child’s feelings and emotions. We want to solve their problems and reassure them, however, this can sometimes come across as dismissive. Statements like:
“that must have felt really difficult”
“I’m guessing that really hurt you”
“given what you have been through, no wonder you feel anxious”
Will help a young person to feel that their emotions are okay and accepted.
- Put yourself in their shoes – try to get down to your teen’s level and think about what things might have been like for them. Try to understand what they are experiencing.
- Label and notice their emotions where you can. For example – “you appear angry today” “that seemed to make you feel really sad” “you look anxious today”. Just by noticing and helping your teen identify how they are feeling will support them in starting to regulate their emotions and improve their resilience.
- Find time – find time to listen to your teen. Even if you are busy when they approach you, it is okay to say something like: “this sounds really important to you, but at the moment I need to finish what I am doing, we can sit down later to think about this more”. Make sure you come back to this with your teen.
- Find some time to do something positive together – no matter how big or small, this can let your teen know that you are available for them.
Online sources of support
Lots of general advice and support can be found online.
For more general advice, see our information on mental health and wellbeing, which includes advice about:
YoungMinds offers free confidential online and telephone support to anyone worried about the emotional and mental wellbeing of a child or young person up to the age of 25.
- call the free parents’ helpine on 0808 802 5544 from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday
- email firstname.lastname@example.org YoungMinds will respond to your query within 3 working days
The charity also has information for parents and carers about mental health.
MindEd for families
MindEd is an online e-portal offering free, simple advice about children and young people’s mental health for all adults.
Although MindEd is aimed at professionals, parents and carers may also find the information helpful.
Royal College of Psychiatrists
You can also find out more by exploring the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ leaflets for parents and young people.
These include mental health information tailored for young people, parents, teachers and carers.
Recovery College Online
Providing a range of online educational courses and resources to people with experience of mental illness, from service users to their family, friends and staff.
When to seek professional help
There’s a difference between feeling a bit low from time to time and a serious emotional health problem.
If your child is feeling unhappy and low for a prolonged period of time, or if you have any other serious concerns about your child or young person, it’s time to seek more professional help.
Any professional working with children and young people should know what to do. You may find it helpful to speak to:
- your GP
- someone you trust at school or college – for example, a teacher, pastoral lead, school nurse or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)
- health visitors
- children’s centres
For example, if you approach a teacher about your concerns or to see if they’ve noticed anything, they might speak to different staff working in the school. For example, a school counsellor, a support worker or, in many areas, a mental health support team for schools and colleges.
If the problem is more complex, the professional you initially approached may suggest getting help from colleagues with more specialist training.
A GP might refer a parent of a child with behaviour problems to a local parenting programme, or a young person who’s depressed might be referred to specialist children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS).
You should contact your local support services immediately if you’re aware of a child or young person at serious risk of harm.
How do I get help from specialist CYPMHS?
Getting help from a specialist CYPMHS is different depending on where you live. Waiting times can vary too.
Most CYPMHS have their own website, which will have information about access, referrals and more, including phone numbers, so you can get in touch directly for detailed advice.
You can also look at your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) website and search for children and young people’s mental health.
There are many services to go to for help without having to ask for a referral, including crisis helplines that anyone can call.
Look up local services that provide mental health support for young people, including phone numbers and website details.
Read about where to get urgent help for mental health.
Read about voluntary community-based youth information services – which often have drop-in sessions for advice and professional help.
Links for Parents/Carers
- Advice for parents and carers talking mental health with young people at secondary school
- Advice for parents and carers talking mental health with young-people at primary school
- Anna Freud parents and carers child in mind series.
- MindEd for Families (parents concerns
- Listen First – resources for parents and carers
- The Anxious Child: A booklet for parents and carers wanting to know more about anxiety in children and young people
- Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters: Every Mind Matters Top tips
- Barnardos: see hear respond support hub
- NSPCC Learning Hub child-mental-health
We strive to deliver a service that is inclusive for all young people, parents and caregivers and provide our staff with a positive environment where each person is valued”