What to do next
- Thank them for sharing what’s going on, be encouraging about the way they’ve opened up and acknowledge how they're feeling.
- Let them know that you love them, you're there for them, they can talk to you whenever they need to, and you can help them get support if they need it.
- Ask them if there's anything you can do that they would find particularly helpful.
- Spend time together thinking about what’s making them feel this way. It could be something at home or school, a relationship with a friend or family member or something else. Discuss whether there any changes that could be made to help make things easier.
- Let your child know about the helplines, textlines and online chat services that are available if they need to talk to someone outside the family. You can find a list of these at the end of this guide. Young people can find it difficult to talk and worry about upsetting their parents, so reassure them that it’s okay to open up to other people.
- If you think your child needs professional support to feel better you can speak to your GP, which is the main way to access mental health services. Together you can discuss whether referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), an assessment by a mental health specialist, or referral for another kind of support is needed. You can speak to your GP with or without your child.
- If your child needs emotional support and help to make sense of their feelings, they might benefit from seeing a counsellor or therapist. You may be able to access this for free through your GP or your child’s school. If it’s an affordable option, you can also consider a private child counsellor. You can find more information about accessing counselling services at the end of this page.
- If you're not sure what to do, you can call our Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544 for free information, advice and support. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9.30am–4pm.
Tips for providing emotional support
Remember, if your child is struggling you won’t be able to fix everything straightaway – but being there for them and providing emotional support makes a huge difference.
Here are our top tips for supporting your child when they’re experiencing difficult feelings:
- Avoid conversations at the height of distress. It's important to be there for them and recognise their distress, but it can be more helpful to talk about the causes when things are feeling calmer.
- Validate their feelings. You could say 'it's really understandable that you're feeling...' to let them know that their feelings are okay.
- Try alternative forms of communication. If they find it difficult to talk, they could write a letter, note or text you to let you know what's going on.
- Stay calm, be patient, don't judge.
- Remind your child that this is temporary. Reassure them that things can change, they can feel better and you can help them find support if they need it.
More information and support
YoungMinds Parents Helpline Guides
- Parents A-Z guide: Advice on supporting your child with specific symptoms such as anxiety, depression and self-harm, and issues that affect mental health
- Parents survival guide
- Accessing counselling services for children and young people
- Activity ideas to help you create a relaxed environment in which to have a conversation with your child
- Conversation starters to help you check-in with your child
Helplines and services for young people
- You can find information on their website about coronavirus and ideas for things to do while staying home.
- Their emotional support services are open as normal – and if you’re under 25 you can talk to them about anything that’s troubling you over the phone, email or webchat. You can also use their phone or online counselling service.
- Helpline open daily 4-11pm: 0808 808 4994
- Email service
- Webchat open daily 4-11pm
- Counselling service
- If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email or chat online about any problem big or small
- Freephone 24h helpline: 0800 1111
- Sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address
- Chat 1:1 with an online advisor
YoungMinds Crisis Messenger
- Provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
- If you need urgent help text YM to 85258
- All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors
- Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
#Take20 is in association with The Drum's Do It Day