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Looking after a child or young person's mental health

There are times when we all feel the strain. As parents and carers, there are ways we can support children and young people to give them the best chance to stay mentally healthy.


Coronavirus and going back to school or college

Returning to education was a big step, and restrictions remain challenging for many. Get advice on how to make being back as smooth as possible



We are pleased to announce that we will be launching a series of Parent Support Groups from February 2021.  
The groups are for parents living in Gloucestershire who are worried about the mental health and emotional wellbeing of their child or young person  (between the ages of 11-18).  

Groups will take place initially by Zoom on a variety of days and times. We aim to run groups face-to-face from April 2021 (providing COVID restrictions allow for this) at Gloucester, Forest of Dean and Cheltenham venues.

Further details can be found on the new Parent Support Group page of our website. Below are electronic versions of the information leaflet and diary listing all groups.

Parents will need to self-refer by completing the Online Referral Form accessed from the Parent Support Group page of our website. Telephone self-referrals are also accepted.

Please do contact Judith if you’d like to find out more information Judith Bell









If your child needs counselling, it doesn't mean you've failed.

Life is a struggle for many children and young people in today’s world. Thousands of parents and carers contact us to get support for their child. You’re not alone.

Many children and young people find that being able to speak confidentially to a counsellor who isn’t in their close circle of friends and family, can really help. This is where TIC+ comes in. Our counsellors are qualified professionals who are experienced at working with children and young people. They care about what they do and want the best outcome for your child. They will not judge you or anyone in your family. Click on the logo for more



A Parents Guide to Depression; contains a summarised list of warning signs, advice and links to agencies for further support if you suspect that your child may be suffering from depression. The information explains how a referral should progress from initial enquiry to treatment. It is important to note that isolated symptoms or signs should not be taken out of context. If you have any concerns please call 111.


Increasing awareness and understanding of depression

Depression is a complicated illness in that the symptoms and experiences vary from person to person. They say “knowledge is power” which is why we’ve put together some resources to help arm you with information to help you understand more about depression and some lifestyle changes which may help you. 


Mental Health







As part of our 'You're never too young to talk mental health' campaign we have produced a new resource for parents and carers to help start the difficult conversation.

Click on the image to access these resources.

There is more related content and a fantastic video halfway down the page!  MindEd - click for a comprehensive resource centre aimed at parents coping with their children in all walks of their lives.


My Mum's got a Dodgy Brain from ForMed Films on Vimeo.

A film for children made by children who have a parent with a mental health problem, made in collaboration with Devon Partnership NHS trust.


Duchess of Cambridge to launch pilot mental health website to help primary schools support pupils   Kate will give the green light to the initiative during a visit to a London primary school helping to trial the online portal coordinated and financed by the duchess’ Royal Foundation.     Click this link to find out more 
& follow @heads_together on Instagram for live updates


Having a conversation with parents and carers about mental health

A Beginner's Guide for Schools.  Developed with YoungMinds', Teachers' Insight Group (May 2019)

Mental health is a very emotional subject to talk about. This is especially true of conversations between teachers and parents and carers, whether they have approached you, or you have encouraged them to think about their family’s mental health yourself. Click here to view the full resource.


Information Advice and Guidance

Support for Young People:


Young Minds (Information and Advice)

Young Minds (Crisis Messenger)

Support for Parents:

Family Lives

Young Minds (Parents Helpline)

Support for Teachers:

NSPCC Child Protection Helpline

Mental Health Foundation (Mental Health Guide for Teachers)

If you have concerns about the immediate safety and wellbeing of a child contact the police using 999 (emergency number).


New Online suicide prevention tool is now available 

On WSPF, R;pple was launched. An online suicide prevention tool, it discretely monitors harmful content/internet searches and replaces it in the first instance with a message of hope and range of mental health support channels for users in crisis to utilise. Click on the links below for more information






Signs something is wrong

Around 1 in 8 children and young people experience behavioural or emotional problems growing up. For some, these will resolve with time, while others will need professional support.

It can be difficult to know if there is something upsetting a child or young person, but there are ways to spot when something's wrong. Look out for:

  • significant changes in behaviour
  • ongoing difficulty sleeping
  • withdrawing from social situations
  • not wanting to do things they usually like
  • self-harm or neglecting themselves

Remember, everyone feels low, angry or anxious at times. But when these changes last for a long time or are significantly affecting them, it might be time to get professional help.

You know your child better than anyone so, if you're worried, first think if there has been a significant, lasting change in their behaviour.

This could be at home, school or college; with others or on their own; or in relation to specific events or changes in their life.

If you're concerned or unsure, there is lots of support out there, including professional help in the support section of this page.

MindEd for Families also has information explaining some common behavioural problems in different age groups.


Self Harm

Coping with Self-Harm - A Guide for Parents and Carers developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.  Includes information on the nature and causes of self-harm, how to support a young person when facing this problem and what help is available. 

Young people who self-harm- A Guide for School Staff developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.

Family Lives offers a guide to understanding self-harm, practical suggestions and links to further support. 

The NSPCC's guide to self-harm find out how to spot the signs and what you can do to help.

Understanding Young Minds is a free resource pack which includes a poster, an infographic, an email footer, an image to share on social media and a website banner.


What is Self-Harm?

  • Self-harm is fundamentally an attempt to cope with and control intense, difficult, and distressing feelings or thought patterns.
  • It includes any activity that intentionally injures the body such as cutting, burning, picking, high risk sexual or drug use behaviours and excessive exercise or eating restrictions.
  • Self-harm can be a distressing topic for parents, carers and safeguarding professionals to think about, but it is worth being clear that self-harm behaviours are less about ‘seeking attention’ and more of a signal ‘cry for help’.
  • Most self-harm will happen in secret and usually comes with feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Motivations are complex but young people report feeling a release or punishing themselves.
  • This release is only temporary and when difficult feelings appear again, so too can the urge to engage in self-harm behaviours. This can cause a difficult cycle of high-risk behaviours to manage feelings.

What is Peer Support

Peer support is when young people living with a mental health condition or other complex needs and difficulties support each other with advice, empathy and a listening ear. It can be a vital lifeline for many young people and can help them build independence, resilience and healthier coping mechanisms.

Young people may use message boards, habit tracking apps and social media to share information about their mental health. The increase in this use of technology for peer support is an indicator of how the pandemic has impacted traditional support services which have been restricted for many young people.

We want to make sure that safeguarding professionals and parents are aware of the different types of support young people may seek out within digital spaces. Where young people are unable to speak about issues in their lives, peer support may be their only way to cope.

Can peer support make things worse?

  • While there may be real benefits in peer support from sharing coping skills, resilience tips and distraction techniques for a young person, our research indicates that there may be some negative factors.
  • Analysts found posts where young people were clearly struggling with their mental health and speaking about distressing thoughts.

  • These posts were met with encouraging statements and motivational quotes but the volume of posts from young people could easily be overwhelming.

  • These interactions may create a feeling of solidarity and validation but it could in fact be triggering for a young person, whereby they compare their progress or emotional state to others. 

  • In some cases, young people may also share methods or tools for self-harm behaviours.

  • Young people may also be left feeling vulnerable and exposed after sharing intensely personal feelings and thoughts.

  • They may also develop unhealthy habits of ruminating on difficult feelings or experiences which may be counterproductive in their attempts to cope and seek support.

The importance of appropriate supports

We understand the value of peer support and where appropriate, this should be encouraged alongside existing professional mental health support for children and young people.

There may be additional complexities where a child or young person who has sought support in online spaces does not get a response or receives negative feedback, which might discourage them from seeking further help. It is important to recognise that there is no way to establish the quality of information or advice they receive.

If you are aware of young people using technology to share or cope with difficult feelings or circumstances it is helpful to discuss the value it has for them and what other supports they can use alongside it.


Practical Tips for Parents and Safeguarding Professionals

  1. If a child or young person is using technology to cope with how they are feeling, this should not be discouraged. However, ensuring they are using the right technology should be. Check that they are using a trusted site to interact with other young people safely.
  2. If a young person is seeking help online they should be encouraged to take regular breaks and be supported in understanding how ruminating or being overexposed to negative posts may not be helpful.
  3. Check that the young people in your care are able to name the trusted adults in their lives – who they would speak to if they needed support.
  4. If a young person has existing mental health support, they should be encouraged to disclose the use of technology as a coping mechanism for self-harm behaviours – this should also be factored into any risk assessment and support plan.
  5. Young people should be reminded about the confidential Childline website and the services they provide which are: internet chat, email, phone or message boards.



Know the Signs: information on suicide and self-harm for parents from the Samaritans

Papyrus is a national charity for the prevention of young suicide.


A registered charity which has been running a crisis centre since 2013. Providing face to face support to people who are at risk of suicide, we are totally independent. We know from speaking with families that the inquest can be a daunting prospect. Families can get support on how to cope after suicide, when it can get very confusing with so many unanswered questions.


The Staying Safe website is a potentially life-saving resource developed by 4 Mental Health, with invaluable with invaluable input from our Expert Reference Group of international academics, people with lived experience (including of surviving a suicide attempt, self-harm, supporting a friend or family member or bereavement by suicide), suicide prevention experts, mental health practitioners, general practitioners, policy makers, public health experts, sector experts, educationalists and concerned citizens. offers compassion, kindness and easy ways to help keep people safer from thoughts of harm and suicide, seek support and discover hope of recovery through powerful videos from people with personal experience.

The website provides vital ‘Safety Plan' guidance tools jointly funded by NHS England, with easy to print / online templates and guidance video tutorials purposefully designed to help people through the process of writing their own Safety Plan to build hope, identify actions and strategies to resist suicidal thoughts and develop positive ways to cope with stress and emotional distress.

Tragically, suicide takes far too many lives, yet suicide is preventable. Anyone struggling to cope or experiencing deep distress may begin to think about harming themselves and consider suicide as a means to escape their emotional pain. It can be incredibly difficult to think clearly during these times. Everyone is encouraged to PREPARE for possible difficult times ahead BEFORE they happen, by completing a Safety Plan.

Staying safe - safety plan template

Helplines for young people

How to talk about suicide sensitively Happiful Magazine October 2019

Talking about suicide is tough. It’s also incredibly important. But, what’s even more important is how we talk about it

If you know someone who might be feeling suicidal, you can find information on what to do, what to say and how to help them on Counselling Directory. Alternatively, the Samaritans have some really helpful advice on how to have a difficult conversation. Take a look at their website for guidance on how to help someone you're worried about open up about their feelings

At Girl Rising, stories inspire us. They encourage us to see the world differently. They show us what is possible. We have put together the Girl Rising Family Guide to help bring these stories and conversations into your homes. It includes links to the film chapters, additional supporting short videos, discussion guides, and more.

The Girl Rising message has always been one of resilience and courage, of hope in the face of challenge. Those values have never felt more important than they do today. (April 20)


Anxiety Affirmations

Anxiety can often take us by surprise, throwing us off course and preventing us from going about our normal lives. But repeating affirmations can help us take back control, and vocalise our intentions. Next time you feel overpowered by anxiety, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and repeat one of these affirmations firmly to yourself. You may be surprised at the effect such simple, reassuring words can have


What is mean world syndrome?

Right now, perhaps more than ever before, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the news cycle. But have you ever stopped to consider how the bad news that we're consuming could be seeping into the rest of our lives? It turns out that what we see and hear being reported, could be negatively impacting how we view the world. Find out more about mean world syndrome and how to tackle it


How to overcome Sunday night anxiety

The weekend is just about to begin, but something that a lot of people will be familiar with is a sense of dread that winds its way up inside you on Sunday night. Whether you have a busy week of work ahead of you, or you feel overwhelmed by your job, don't let anxiety about the week ahead disturb your weekend. Learn how to tackle Sunday night anxiety, for good



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