When your child is experiencing difficulties with their mental health or emotional wellbeing, finding available support can be tricky. Figuring out how best to support them and actually knowing where to find the help they might need can feel a bit of a minefield.

If you are wondering where to start with supporting your child, what to do, and how to do it, you are definitely not alone! However, we really hear how it can feel that way, especially when trying to support your child through what can sometimes feel like the unknown.

Here are just a few helpful tips on where to find support for your child if you are worried about their mental health or emotional wellbeing.

Find support online
Kooth supports young people from the age of 10 in many areas of the UK. It offers access to mental health support from qualified practitioners and lots of other useful resources too, like a magazine, moderated live forums, activity hub and more.

Talk to your GP
Speaking to your doctor can be a helpful way to explore what your child might need right now and also give you a chance to talk about your own worries too. You might be signposted to local or specialist services such as CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) where your child can be assessed for support. You might even be signposted to services that offer parent support too which could be really helpful.

Getting support from CAMHS
As above, one of the most efficient ways to get a CAMHS referral is through your GP so they can refer you to the most appropriate service. To find information for your local CAMHS service, just type “CAMHS” and your local area into your search engine.

CAMHS can help with a range of difficulties from anxiety, depression, eating difficulties, self harm and many other complex mental health concerns. CAMHS teams usually consist of professionals such as nurses, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

While CAMHS support might be available for your child, please be mindful that there could be a waiting list in your area and so gaps between being assessed and receiving support are not uncommon. For this reason, looking at other support in the interim could be really useful too.

Talk to your child’s school
This can be a great idea for some early intervention if your child is finding things difficult but isn’t necessarily needing specialist mental health support. It can be important to think about your child’s age and being respectful of their boundaries and need for confidentiality here. For example if they are in year six (or younger if it feels right) and older, talking to your child first could be more respectful and appropriate than talking to anyone without their permission. This way, the decision to reach out to the school feels like a shared one.

Schools are often really well equipped to help with your child’s wellbeing and sometimes have additional support services in school that could be useful.

Primary schools sometimes have targeted work going on behind the scenes to help with a wide range of emotional and wellbeing issues; secondary schools often (but not always) have counselling, pastoral or inclusion teams who support students too. Schools also have access to other professionals who they can refer onto if it feels appropriate, so giving them as much information as possible could be really helpful here.

If talking to your child’s school feels like a daunting prospect, sometimes an initial email to explain your concerns can feel less overwhelming and help you make sense of the situation too. If you are doing this with permission from an older child, having a think together about what feels okay to share could be useful.

Finding emotional support privately
If seeking support from your GP or child’s school doesn’t feel right for you for any reason at all, you can always find professional support privately from a qualified practitioner.

If looking for a private therapist feels like the right option for you and your child, make sure that the person is suitably qualified to work with children and is registered with a professional body. This gives you some assurance that they are practising professionally, ethically and are qualified too. Don’t be afraid to ask for a practitioner’s qualifications and areas of expertise in order to find the right person for your child. If they are registered with a professional body, they should also have a registration number so you can check.

Finding other support online for your child
If your child is dealing with something quite specific, there is help out there, but it can feel a bit overwhelming if you are looking for information. Here are just a few trusted organisations that you might find useful.

  • BEAT – a leading organisation that supports people with eating difficulties
  • Hope Again – is the youth website association with Cruse Bereavement Care and supports young people who are experiencing grief and loss.
  • Turning Point – a UK charity that helps young people from the age of 14 with drug and alcohol issues.

Support for parents
We all struggle and/or feel guilt from time to time. This is completely normal. If you feel that you need help and are in crisis, head here to see a list of organisations that can help. Alternatively, if you feel able to, share your worries and questions with trusted friends or family. Your GP is also available, so if you are feeling in need of more support, do consider making an appointment with your local doctor. Remember, you are not alone.

There are lots of parenting support communities online filled with help advice from professionals and parents too. Here are just a few you might find useful:

General parenting communities

  • Mumsnet – The UK’s best-know parenting website
  • Bounty – If you have young children, you might remember your free bounty pack when you became pregnant. This parenting network offers specialist information from midwives, doctors, and parenting experts too
  • Babycentre – An online community to help you from pregnancy and into parenthood.

For families who have children with additional needs

  • Contact – A charity that helps families with disabled children
  • The Autistic Society – An organisation offering information for families with autistic children

Baby loss support organisations

  • Sands – A stillbirth and neonatal death charity
  • Bliss – Support for families with babies born premature or sick
  • The Miscarriage Association  – Support for those affected by miscarriage

By Gemma Campbell