Research from Mind found many children and young people don’t understand mental health. Those experiencing emotional distress or mental health issues tend to downplay their problems. And rather than reach out to a friend or trusted adult for support, they'll turn to anonymous services for advice and care.
What can affect children and young people’s mental health?
As children grow and their bodies and minds develop, they might struggle to change. Puberty can play a part in the emotional and mental wellbeing of children and young people.
But external factors can also affect their mental and emotional health, such as:
- Traumatic events like an injury or loss of a loved one, particularly a parent.
- Changes to routine, family life or social life can impact their emotional or mental wellbeing.
What signs should you look out for?
There are all sorts of concerns young people may need support with. It's important to reach out and speak to someone if you experience:
- Sadness, low mood or depression
- Feelings of worry, anxiety, or low confidence
- Problems with eating or your relationship with food
- Anger and irritability
- Problems sleeping, sleeping more than usual, tiredness or insomnia
- Hearing voices or seeing things
- Thoughts about wanting to hurt yourself
- Complicated feelings after a traumatic event
- Distancing yourself from friends or family
- A lack of interest or loss of interest in hobbies
For parents and carers, it's important to be aware of any changes in behaviour or mood so you can support your child to stay mentally healthy. You can find more information on what to look for and how to support your child on NHS Every Mind Matters.
When should you reach out for help?
You should still reach out for support even if what's bothering you isn't listed. Mental health looks different for everyone. You don't need to be in crisis before you reach out for help. The sooner you speak to someone about what's bothering you, the sooner you can start feeling like yourself again.
There are lots of ways you can access support:
- The NHS has a list of services that provide mental health support for young people, and can help you find your local mental health support services.
- Mental Health UK can also help you find local support for your mental health.
- Other options for support, like charities, offer a range of services, from crisis helplines to counselling. Read our information below on finding other support services.
If you're in a crisis and need urgent help:
If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help by visiting your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department or by calling 999.
If you need urgent support but don't want to go to A&E:
- Call Samaritans on freephone at 116 123 – they're always open and are there to listen.
- Contact SHOUT by text at 85258.
- Contact YoungMinds Crisis Messenger.
- Contact NHS 111.
If you need support but feel safe:
NHS support for children and young people
There are NHS Child and Young People's Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) services around the UK. Young people and their parents and carers can get direct support through these services.
What is CYPMHS (CAMHS)?
Child and Young People's Mental Health Services (CYPMHS), previously Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are NHS services that support children and young people's emotional, behavioural and mental health.
How do I access CYPMHS?
You'll normally need a referral from your GP. Some services accept referrals from schools, social workers, and youth offending teams. You must tell the person referring you as much as possible. This will help you access the proper care and support. If you're old enough, you can refer yourself.
Who does CYPMHS support?
How long CYPMHS can support you is often personal to the individual seeking care. They typically support children and young people 18 years old and younger. If you're older than 18, Mind's guide on adult services and our list of other options for support can help you get the right care.
Other services that can support you
Childline is a free, private and confidential service here to help anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through.
You can talk to them about anything, whatever your worry, whenever you need help, anytime day or night.
Shout is a free, nationwide, text-based, 24/7 service for people experiencing crisis. It’s a place to go if you’re anxious, worried, stressed, or struggling to cope and need help.
Young Minds is a mental health charity for children and young people. They give advice and information about mental health conditions and support for both young people and parents and carers.
Text YM to 85258
Parents Helpline, 9.30am - 4pm, Monday to Friday - 0808 802 5544
Mind is a mental health charity that gives advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They have a section on their website on CAMHS/CYPMHS and can help you find support in your area.
Monday to Friday, 9am - 6pm - 0300 123 3393
The Mix is a free, confidential support service for young people under 25. They are here to help you on any challenge you’re facing – from mental health to money, from homelessness to finding a job, from break-ups to drugs.
Everyday, 4pm -11pm - 0808 808 4994
The NHS website has further information on CYPMHS, including moving from CYPMHS to adult services, and other resources.