Children & Young People

Although serious mental illness is rare in young people, it is not uncommon for children to experience emotional and behavioural problems which affect their daily lives and relationships. These are often a response to difficulties in the family or school, or a stressful event, such as bereavement, bullying, or parental separation. They may also be associated with physical illness or developmental disabilities, including learning difficulties, ADHD or Autistic Spectrum Disorder.


Assessment of a child or young person’s mental health therefore involves looking at their medical and developmental history, family history, school functioning and relationships at home and school, and getting the perspectives of the child themselves, their parents and other relevant adults such as teachers. A range of treatments may be offered, including 1-to-1 sessions with the child, family work, liaison with other professionals and medication.

Some Problems That We Could Help With

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD is a disorder which affects everyday life. Children with ADHD often find it difficult to sit still and listen, find it tricky to follow instructions, and after often seen as troublemakers. ADHD can manifest in a number of ways, including an inability to learn and play along with others.

Read more about ADHD here.

Childhood Anxiety

Anxiety is an experience which we all have at some point in our lives to varying degrees. Sometimes it can usefully motivate us to do things that we may not want to do, such as studying for an exam or attending an interview. However, when anxiety becomes overwhelming and we avoid or are prevented from doing our best in tasks it can become very stressful.

Severe anxiety may be triggered by a stressful event, such as bereavement or bullying.

Symptoms can include somatic symptoms such as headaches or tummy aches, chest pains, palpitations, cold hands and feet, blurred vision, dizziness and nausea, which can seriously affect our everyday functioning, although there is no actual physical illness.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Children

These include Asperger syndrome and produce difficulties in 3 areas:

  • Social interaction – including lack of understanding and awareness of other people’s emotions and feelings.

  • Language and communication skills – including delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them properly.

  • Unusual patterns of thought and behaviour – including making repetitive movements, such as hand tapping or twisting , or set routines of behaviour which, if broken, the child finds upsetting.

Although there is no cure for ASD, difficulties can be managed with specialist education, behaviour management support, and social skills training. Every child with ASD is different, and a detailed assessment to identify the extent of the problems and educating the young person, family and others in the child’s life (such as teachers), is important.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children

OCD is another way in which anxiety can be expressed. People with OCD have unwanted and distressing thoughts that may include the fear of harm coming to them or other people if they do not carry out specific behaviours. Although sufferers are aware that these thoughts do not always make sense, the fear of what might happen if the behaviour is not carried out far outweighs the belief that the fear does not make sense.

Compulsive behaviours that people carry out can include excessively washing, cleaning, checking, or counting, or repeating phrases. The compulsive behaviours can take up a huge part of the day and often prevent people from getting on with other important parts of their lives, including going to school or family and social activities


Depression in Children

This can can involve a variety of distressing symptoms, including low mood, not being able to sleep or sleeping too much; a significant loss of or increase in appetite; reduction in motivation and concentration; withdrawal from usual activities; sometimes the feeling that life is not worth living.

People who suffer from depression can find themselves being frequently tearful and not wanting to do activities that they used to enjoy. Depression can often be a reaction to a particularly difficult life event, but in some cases, it just seems to appear as if out of nowhere.


Self-harming Behaviour in Children

Self-harm is a technique used by some young people (and adults) who feel overwhelmed by their difficult emotions and/or experiences and are unable to manage them. The sufferer deliberately causes harm to him or herself in order to feel physical pain rather than emotional pain.

Treatment For Mental Health Disorders In Children

  • Advice on managing distressing feelings and unwanted behaviour

  • Family appointments to think about ways to resolve problems together

  • Individual therapy for your child to help them understand their feelings and learn new ways of coping

  • Medication prescribed by a child and adolescent psychiatrist

  • Support to other professionals about how best they can help you and your child

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
A model that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviours and explores practical and meaningful ways of working through current difficulties.

Systemic Therapy
The young person is understood as part of an organic and evolving system, for example the family. Change in one part of the system affects the system as a whole.

Parent Training (Behavioural Therapy)
The therapist coaches parents in applying such strategies as rewarding positive behaviour, and responding to negative behaviour with clear consequences and time out .

There is increasing evidence that medication can be a helpful addition to other treatments in some conditions e.g. severe depression, OCD, ADHD

Liaison with Other Agencies

It is often important to share information about the child with professionals e.g. teachers, Paediatricians or school nurses, so that everyone is working together.


If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from above conditions, please call us on 780-669-8555. Our team is here waiting to help.​​​​​