Parents – a “first aid kit” and guide: who to ask and what to do

According to the charity The Mental Health Foundation, issues around mental health are affecting one in 6 children. Figures from the BBC are suggesting that children are now waiting more than two months to access mental health services for children. It is a difficult time for both the children and parents, in terms of where to go for support and what to do for the best.  Here are some tips and advice to help you in the moment.

What to do when you are concerned about your child’s mental health

  1. Speak to your GP – they are the first port of call for advice and support available for your child at this time
  2. Look into local services – you will see we are promoting local services when we get to know about them.  This will continue as we go along.
  3. Speak to us at school and let us know – we will communicate with you also if we have concerns
  4. Keeping well – both parents and students need to look after themselves.  Where possible aim to eat healthily, get some exercise (even just a walk) and a good night’s sleep.  Have a routine at bedtime to help relax and aim to minimise screen time in the hour or so before bed.

What to do in a mental health emergency

According to the NHS a mental health emergency is “when someone feels like they might harm themselves or someone else, feel suicidal or are in extreme distress”.  In the event of this happening here are some ways/ideas of actions to take;

  1. Call 111/999 depending on the level of worry you might have.  111 wouldn’t be for an emergency but would be able to offer support in seeking advice and medical support.  999  would be in a emergency for fast support.
  2. Call a local NHS urgent mental health line, for us at school the number is the Black Country healthcare NHS foundation trust 0800 008 6516
  3. Call or text a charity such as childlike on 0800 1111 or Young minds is a text service the young people can access via texting YM to 85258 24/7.  There is a parents helpline on 0808 802 5544.  On the website there is access to a parents web chat service and email advice support: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/parent/parents-helpline-and-webchat/

General advice for helping your child when mental health becomes an issue

  • Try to keep things normal – keep everyday routines where possible, be realistic though.  Talk to your child and agree with them about how best to keep important people in their lives know what is happening.
  • Plan together – Keep it simple and manageable!  Focus on things that help and avoid what doesn’t help.  Be flexible – if its not working – change the plan. 
  • Keep listening – listen to them, follow their lead and allow them to take small steps if that’s working.  Letting them talk allows parents to understand how they are feeling and what they are going through.
  • Look after yourself!  Take care of your wellbeing too, talk to your friends and support networks to help you.

For more tips and advice, please see our well-being section.

Interim Deputy Headteacher | + posts

Interim Deputy Headteacher at St Thomas More Catholic School.