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How to get mental health support for a child

If you’re worried about the mental health of your child, there’s a lot you can do to help.

This guide provides practical advice on when and how to get help if your child has a mental health problem.

Statistic about children
Source: Place2Be

Children and young people, like the rest of us, go through stages of feeling anxious, sad, worried and angry. Sometimes they'll behave in unexpected ways, challenging authority, having tantrums and acting out of character. When these behaviours have gone on for too long, are too disruptive or are harming their, or the wellbeing of you and your family, you should get help.

  • Talk to your child

    Big changes, like starting a new school, moving house or the birth of a sibling, can trigger misbehaviour or feelings of anxiety or sadness, so its possible your child is upset or behaving badly because of something happening in their life. Often these feelings or behaviours are short-lived so it's worth giving things a bit of time before you contact your GP, but, if you haven't already, you should be having conversations with your child about what's going on.

    While children can find it hard to put their feelings into words, from a young age they'll understand when you talk to them about their feelings and behaviours. Older children might feel more comfortable writing down their feelings to share with you. 

    Take a few minutes to read this NSPCC guidance on how to have difficult conversations with your children.

  • Make an appointment with your child's GP

    If you think your child might have a mental health problem you need to book an appointment with your child's GP. During this appointment the GP will talk to you and your child to find out what's going on, and to recommend some next steps.

    The GP might refer your child to the specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, CAMHS. This is a free NHS service made up of teams of different health professionals who can further assess your child and offer treatment options. CAMHS services and waiting times can vary depending on where you live and on the type of support needed.

    This NHS guide to CAMHS will provide you with more information about the service.

  • Contact your child's school

    Most schools are experienced in dealing with children’s mental health issues and have nurses or counsellors on their staff, or work closely with other support services on behalf of their students. Your child's school can make a referral to CAMHS.

    Before you contact your child's school, talk to your child first, as they’ll want to be involved with this decision.

  • Tell your child about the available support

    Young people often find it easier to open up to someone they don’t know, so why not tell your child about Childline, they provide trained counsellors that your child can call, or chat online with, at any time.

    Childline provides free, confidential help to anyone in the UK who's under 19 and their website has online guides and tools each designed to help young people understand and manage a range of different issues.

  • Contact a helpline for parents

    When your child is experiencing a mental health problem it can be hard on the whole family and it's not uncommon to blame yourself, or to feel frustrated that you can't seem to help. 

    But to help your child you have to look after yourself, and a good place to start is the free confidential helpline run by the charity, Young Minds. The helpline offers advice and support to parents who're worried about their child or young person under the age of 25.

  • When to get in touch with us

    We exist to support the health and wellbeing of current and former bank employees and their dependents. If you work or have worked in a UK bank, we might be able to help with referrals to support services or counselling for you and your child. However, we will always ask that your child see a GP for an assessment as a first step.

Find out how we can help

  • Our support services

    The Bank Workers Charity exists to support current and former bank workers. Find out more about the services and support we provide.