Are you worried about your Child?

Are you worried about your child? 

Firstly, you’re not alone.  Parents now worry about their children’s mental health – and bullying - a lot more than stranger danger, drugs, pregnancy or trouble with the police.  Since the pandemic, 3 out of 5 parents are concerned that their child’s mental health issues are worsening their performance at school.  

What to do

Ups and downs are normal in adolescence, but if you’re worried about your child’s psychological distress, gently ask them about it.   

Signs that they’re struggling might be: persistent low mood or anxieties, social isolation, a fall in grades, a drastic change in behaviour or personality, difficulties sleeping, concentrating or eating, missing school with headaches, stomach aches and panic attacks. 

Why is my child hurting themselves?  Are they at risk of suicide? 

This is a subject that’s painful for parents to contemplate, let alone have to face.  If you’ve noticed injuries or scars on your child’s body, had a call from school telling you that your child is self-harming or you’re fearful that your child may be at risk of suicide, stay calm and gently explore how they’re feeling.  If it seems appropriate, ask them if it ever feels so bad that they’ve contemplated ending their own life.  You cannot put the idea of suicide into a young person’s head by talking about it.  But if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it can be a huge relief to acknowledge the depth of their despair with another person.  This difficult conversation can be a starting place for seeking help until these thoughts pass.   

Hug your child.  Tell them that you care that they’re in such a dark place and want to support them through it.  Don’t minimise their feelings of hopelessness, count their blessings for them or try to distract them out of it.  Many people experience suicidal ideation at some time in their life.  Few will act on these thoughts.  However, any talk of suicide should be taken seriously.  Never dismiss it as attention-seeking. 

Where to seek help in an emergency: 

If your child’s life is in danger – call 999 or take them straight to A&E. 

Urgent 24/7 mental health assessment (but not a life-threatening emergency), contact your local NHS Urgent Mental Health Helpline (through or call 111) 

Confidential, mental health helplines, most of them free and 24 hours: 

Childline – tel: 0800 11 11, email or chat online.  Sign up for a Childline account on their website and you can message a counsellor anytime without using your email address.  Or chat with an online advisor. 

Samaritans – tel: 116123 or email 

SHOUT – 24/7 text message support: text SHOUT to 85258  

Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide) – HOPELineUK tel: 0800-068 4141 or text them on 07786 209687  

The Mix – tel: 0808 808 4994, 11am-11pm daily. 

Mental health services – NHS, school and elsewhere 

Start with your GP.  They may refer your child to Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), where, if your child’s issues meet a threshold of severity, a psychiatrist may make a diagnosis and prescribe medication and/or talking therapies.  

Psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors also provide talking therapies. Ask your child if they feel it might help to talk through what they’re going through. Counselling needs to be voluntary. 

At Chesham Grammar there are two counsellors: Anya Beatty (Mon-Wed) and Emma Guest (Thurs-Fri).  Children can be referred for counselling by heads of year, matron, parents or they can refer themselves.  Email: 

What school counsellors do: 

  • Provide convenient, free counselling during term time for young people who are struggling and unhappy and need more support than teachers can provide but don’t necessarily meet the CAMHS threshold for services. 
  • Up to 6 sessions (sometimes more), children can talk through their problems in a non-judgemental, confidential space.  By exploring what makes them feel as they do - sad or angry, confused or anxious - they can gain more understanding and acceptance of themselves. We all cope better when we’re able to tell our story, find the words to express difficult emotions and feel cared about during tough times. 
  • Speedy referrals and no long waiting lists - CAMHS waiting lists are long and specialist services are sometimes turning referrals away.  We’re often able to see someone within a week.  Sometimes there’s a short wait. 
  • What issues do children bring?  Social anxiety, depression, neurodiversity, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation, friendship fall outs, exam stress, bereavement, low self-esteem, sex, drugs and alcohol, gender and cultural identity, and the impact of parents’ expectations, divorce, addictions and mental illness - to name but a few.    

What we don’t do 

  • Tell the young person what to do, set them (more) homework and (more) goals. 
  • Promise a quick fix for challenging behaviour, poor grades or severe psychiatric issues. 

If your child doesn’t want counselling at school, there are alternatives: 

  • Local and specialised private therapists can be found through the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists ( or UK Council for Psychotherapy ( directories.  
  • Charities providing free or low-cost counselling for young people such as Way In, in Chesham (, Youth Enquiry Service in High Wycombe ( and No22 Maidenhead & Windsor Youth Counselling Service (

Further advice for parents on how to seek mental health services is available on Young Minds website (

Finally, if you’re worrying about your child’s mental health, it can be stressful and lonely.  Please look after yourself, too.   


Eating Disorders


Exam Stress

Exam time is upon us and what is for many young people, and parents, a stressful time. Below are some links covering a wide-range of tips to keep mentally healthy. 

All The Revision and Exam Tips You’ll Ever Need

Exam Stress and Pressure (Childline)

Countdown to exams (BBC Bitesize)

Supporting Your Child During Exam Time (Young Minds)



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