The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional wellbeing - it is all about how we think, feel, and behave. This page includes information on mental health disorders that may be seen in children and young people, how you can access support and links to support services that are available.
Emotional health includes our thoughts, feelings, and behavior internally and externally. It requires managing emotional actions and gauging the appropriate reactions to situations, preventing unnecessary and unhealthy stress.
Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:
- being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
- having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
- being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
- going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its pupils
- taking part in local activities for young people.
Other factors are also important, including:
- feeling loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe
- being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves
- being hopeful and optimistic
- being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed
- accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at
- having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community
- feeling they have some control over their own life
- having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
These are some of the mental health problems that can affect children and young people:
- Depression affects more children and young people today than in the last few decades, but it is still more common in adults. Teenagers are more likely to experience depression than young children.
- Self-Harm is a very common problem among young people. Some people find it helps them manage intense emotional pain if they harm themselves, through cutting or burning, for example. They may not wish to take their own life.
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) can cause young people to become extremely worried. Very young children or children starting or moving school may have separation anxiety.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can follow physical or sexual abuse, witnessing something extremely frightening of traumatising, being the victim of violence or severe bullying or surviving a disaster.
- Eating Disorders usually start in the teenage years and are more common in girls than boys. The number of young people who develop an eating disorder is small, but eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa can have serious consequences for their physical health and development.
What do I do if I have concerns for my child's mental health?
If you do have any concerns at all for your child's mental health then you should discuss this with your GP who can make an assessment of your child's mental health and make a referral to appropriate services if required.
Are mental health services free and how can I access them?
Mental health services are free on the NHS but sometimes you will need a referral from your GP to access them. There are some mental health services that allow people to refer themselves. If you are at school or college, mental health care may be arranged for you.
What should I do if I have concerns for my child's mental health?
If you do have any concerns at all for your child's mental health then you should discuss this with your GP who can make an assessment of your child's mental health and make a referral to appropriate services if required. Find out more on the NHS website.
Accessing Support in a Crisis
If you need help for a mental health crisis, emergency or breakdown, you should get immediate expert advice and assessment. You can find out further details on the NHS website.
Support for Young People
To access details of emotional and mental health support organisations and services listed on the Local Offer website please click here Mental Health Support or by clicking on the image below:
Mental health support for children and young people transitioning back into education
Emotional support and advice for Parents/Carers
The Help for Parents Website provides helpful information and advice on parents/carers who are supporting a young person with mental health problems.
The Happy Maps Website provides information and advice for parents/carers on the emotional health and well-being of children from pre-school to secondary and young adulthood.
You can find out information on parent/carer groups including those that offer support around specific conditions and disabilities on the Local Offer website.
What is CAMHS?
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. These are NHS services, which in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare.
They offer support and treatment for children aged 0 – 18 years who have emotional and/or mental health problems. The young people they work with may be experiencing severe or complex mental health problems and neuro-developmental disorders. These have a significant impact on the child’s development and cause distress to the child and their carers.
The Community CAMHS teams are made up of community psychiatric nurses, therapists, family support workers, specialist practitioners, peer support workers, psychologists, non-medical prescribers and psychiatrists. These professionals work together with children, young people and their families to try to overcome their difficulties using evidence-based treatments.
What services do they offer?
CAMHS services include the following:
- Children Looked After and Adoption Team
- Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
- Developmental Neuropsychiatry and Tourette's Clinic
- Eating Disorder Team
- Forensic Community CAMHS
- Head 2 Head Team
- Intellectual Disability Team
- Primary Liaison Team
- The Lookout Adolescent Unit
- Paediatric Liaison Service
Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team for children and young people aged up to 18 who are in psychiatric or psychological crisis who, without the crisis resolution home treatment team, a hospital admission would be required.
CAMHS Information for children and young people
If you are a child or young person and would like to know more about what CAMHS do and how they can help you can find out more on the NHS website.
Child and adoleschent mental health services information for parents and carers
If you're worried about a child or need advice and support for coping with anything affecting your child's emotional or mental health, there are different ways to seek help. Find out more on the NHS website.
How do I access support from CAMHS?
If you are the parent or carer for a young person aged 0 to 18 years old with a Nottinghamshire GP, you can refer on their behalf to CAMHS. This means that you can directly approach the team to ask for help. The telephone number is 0115 8542 299 and it is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You will speak to a specially trained professional who will ask you some questions and talk to you about how they can help. If you prefer, you can ask for help by completing an online referral form on the NHS website.
If you prefer you can speak to your GP or school health nurse who can get in touch with CAMHS by calling or writing to them. Any other professional who works with your child/ young person like a social worker, counsellor or youth worker can also contact CAMHS to find out how we can help you.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team offer a service for young people experiencing a mental health crisis. This includes young people who are:
- are at risk of immediate and significant self-harm
- are an immediate and significant risk to others due to their mental health
- are being considered for admission to a mental health inpatient unit
- are in acute psychological or emotional distress that is causing them to not be able to go about their daily activities, such as going to school and looking after themselves
CAMHS Contact details:
CAMHS Single Point of Access for Self Referral which is responded to within 72 hours: 0115 854 2299
CAMHS Crisis Team for urgent assistance: 0115 844 0560
Alternatively you can the Nottinghamshire Mental Health helpline helpline number on 0808 196 3779. This number is available to anyone in mental health crisis at anytime, anywhere across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
Young Minds offer free 24/7 support for young people experiencing a mental health crisis. If you need urgent help text YM to 85258. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
You can access support support and information from Together for Short Lives. Their family support hub offers emotional and practical advice. If you have questions, need support or just want someone to talk to you can contact the Together for Families Helpline free on 0808 8088 100 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Barnardos Butterfly Project provides comprehensive practical and emotional support to children & young people with life limiting illnesses and their families, from diagnosis to bereavement. The project is funded by the local health authority and can provide a service in the following areas:- City of Nottingham, Gedling, Rushcliffe & Broxtowe. The contact details are tel: 0115 9255565 (office hours Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm) or email: email@example.com
Mental Health Support Teams will be available to pupils from years 7 to 13 in certain areas of the County (depending on where the school is that the CYP attends), giving them access to help from NHS trained staff earlier and within their school environment.
The teams are staffed by mental health professionals from Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) services and will work with children and young people with mild to moderate emotional, mental health and well-being problems, giving them access to help from NHS trained staff earlier and within their school environment, increased access to emotional and wellbeing support. It will include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy therapists, Education Mental Health Practitioners and administrator.
- deliver evidence-based interventions in or close to schools and colleges for those with mild to moderate mental health issues;
- help children and young people with more severe needs to access the right support;
- work with and within schools and colleges, providing a link to specialist NHS services;
- and build on and increase support already in place, not replace it.
How can my child access the service?
Access to service is via schools and their Education mental health practitioner, please liaise with your SENCO or Head Teacher for more information.
The age children and young people move to another service can differ depending on where you live. For example, some transition at 16, others at 18 or older. Transition between services can be a scary time for young people as the teams they know and are used to working with change.
It’s important everyone involved understands the process and feels supported and prepared to try to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. Your Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team should work closely with you to support the transition. For example, you could have a joint meeting with your current team and the new adult mental health services.
You can also find more health information on Transitions Planning for Disabled Young People on the NHS website.
Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT)
They work with service users who have mental health difficulties which require the involvement of specialist mental health services and cannot be managed by the GP surgery.
They provide care management and general emotional support, through to specific and other modes of therapy that will help with recovery. Wherever possible, they help to discharge service users back to the care of their GP once a stable period of recovery is achieved.
This service is for men and women aged between 18 and 65 and those over 65 who are already accessing adult mental health services.
Who can refer to the service?
All referrals to the service have to be made by a GP. If you need support you therefore must disucss this with your GP.
CMHT Bassetlaw Hospital
Tel: 01909 502 011
CMHT Broxtowe and Hucknall
38 Wollaton Road
Tel: 0115 854 1271
Fax: 0115 9436 600
Tel: 0115 952 4098
Fax: 0115 9522411
93 Musters Road
Tel: 0115 945 5990, option 1
Fax: 0115 982 0461
CMHT Newark & Sherwood
Tel: 0115 854 2216
CMHT Mansfield and Ashfield
Millbrook Mental Health Unit
King's Mill Hospital
Tel: 0115 956 0858
The Mental Health Act is a law that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder.
The term "mental health disorder" is used to describe people who have:
- a mental illness
- a learning disability
- a personality disorder
In most cases when people are treated in hospital or another mental health facility, they have agreed or volunteered to be there. You may be referred to as a voluntary patient. But there are cases when a person can be detained, also known as sectioned, under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement.
The NHS has also produced a series of easy read leaflets to help you to understand your rights under the Mental Health Act.
I'm detained in hospital. What does it mean?Detention and your rights
What is a community treatment order?Community treatment orders
How to give someone the power to make decisions for you.About people making decisions for you
Everyone is equal. What does that mean?Everyone is equal – your rights
What is guardianship?Guardianship
What are Independent Mental Health Advocates?About Independent Mental Health Advocates
Information you must be givenInformation you must be given
Leaving the hospital wardLeaving the hospital ward
What does the term 'your nearest relative' mean?Your nearest relative
What should your family ask when you are detained?Questions for your family to ask when you are detained
Can professionals share information about you with each other?Sharing your information with professionals
Can people visit me in hospital?Your right to have visitors
How can I make sure people know what I want?Making decisions in advance
Your treatment and care planYour treatment and you rights
Words you may not know Code of Practice plain English glossary
What is Supported Decision Making?
A young person with a disability and/or special educational needs may have questions about how they can be prepared and supported to make decisions about their future. Under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014, the right to make requests and decisions applies directly to disabled young people and those with special educational needs over compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn 16) rather than to their parents.
Parents, or other family members, can continue to support young people in making decisions, or act on their behalf, provided that the young person is happy for them to do so, and it is likely that parents will remain closely involved in the great majority of cases.
How can I support a young person to make a decision?
1. Provide relevant information
- Does the person have all the relevant information they need to make a particular decision?
- If they have a choice, have they been given information on all the alternatives?
2. Communicate in an appropriate way
- Could information be explained or presented in a way that is easier for the person to understand (for example, by using simple language or visual aids)?
- Have different methods of communication been explored if required, including non-verbal communication?
- Could anyone else help with communication (for example, a family member, support worker, interpreter, speech and language therapist or advocate)?
3. Make the person feel at ease
- Are there particular times of day when the person’s understanding is better?
- Are there particular locations where they may feel more at ease?
- Could the decision be put off to see whether the person can make the decision at a later time when circumstances are right for them?
4. Support the person
- Can anyone else help or support the person to make choices or express a view?
Making a best interests decision
After all steps have been taken to support someone to make their own decision, if the person is assessed as lacking capacity to make that particular decision, then a ‘best interests’ decision must be made.
The person who makes the ‘best interests’ decision is called the ‘decision maker’. Who the decision maker is will depend on the situation and the type of decision.
- For most day-to-day decisions the ‘decision maker’ is likely to be the person who is supporting the person.
- If it is a decision about healthcare it will be the relevant health professional.
Whoever is the decision maker, it is important they talk with others involved with the person, and involve the person themselves as much as possible, to get a good understanding and therefore make the best decision they can.
Best interests checklist
The Mental Capacity Act sets out a best interests checklist, which must be followed when making a best interests decision:
- Will the person regain capacity?
- Involve the person.
- Consult all relevant people.
- Consider all the information.
- Do not make any assumptions.
- Consider past, present and future wishes.
- Always pick the very least restrictive option.
Involving the person you are making a best interests decision for
When a best interests decision is being made, the person must still be involved as much as possible.
Mencap and BILD’s Involve Me resources offer some creative ways to ensure people remain at the heart of decision making. There are guides and a video to show how the preferences of people with profound and multiple disabilities can be captured and used to influence decisions about their lives, even if they lack capacity to make the decision themselves.
Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)
If a person has no family or friends for the decision-maker to ask about important decisions like serious medical treatment or changes of accommodation, then an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate must represent the person’s views.
They are a legal safeguard for people who lack the capacity to make big decisions. Read more on Independent Mental Capacity Advocates.
In Nottinghamshire the organisation Powher provide independent mental capacity advocacy services.
How can I find out further information?
The Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) orgnisation have produced a factsheet on this subject to ensure young people can be supported through decision making to create positive outcomes as they prepare for adulthood. Read the Preparing for Adulthood Factsheet or by clicking on the icon below:
To access details of mental health support organisations and services listed on the Local Offer website please click here Mental Health Support or by clicking on the image below:
Below are links to sources of support, advice and guidance specifically for parents/carers:
The Health for Parents website provides helpful information and advice on parents/carers who are supporting a young person with mental health problems.
The Happy Maps website provides information and advice for parents/carers on the emotional health and well-being of children from pre-school to secondary and young adulthood.
You can find out information on parent/carer groups including those that offer support around specific conditions and disabilities on the Local Offer website.
BBC Teach have produced a collection of resources to support your class and promote the importance of mental wellbeing for use with both primary and secondary students.
The themes explored in this collection include:
- Mental health
- Body image
- Learning differences
- Growth mindset
To access these resources go to the BBC Teach website.