Parent concern for youngsters

7 August 2008

Nearly half of parents (46%) contacting YoungMinds Parents Information Service for advice are worried about their 12-16 year olds.

Meanwhile almost a third (31%) called the helpline about a serious mental health problem, with suicidal thoughts and attempts causing greatest concern.

A quarter (26%) had worries about primary age children (6-11 year olds) while just 6% had questions about 0-5 year olds.

Most callers wanted support on a range of behaviour management issues, from tips on discipline to coping with disruptive or aggressive behaviour. Parent-child relationships also caused concern, along with anxiety, depression and family breakdown.

Sarah Brennan, YoungMinds Chief Executive, said: "Our Parent Information Service aims to provide help and advice to anyone concerned about the mental health of a child or young person. We hope that by providing early support on emotional difficulties such as challenging behaviour and family breakdown we can prevent serious mental health problems occurring.

We also hope to encourage more fathers to get involved in the health and well-being of their children. The majority of helpline callers are mothers, and we believe it is vital for fathers to play an active role too. That is why YoungMinds is currently working with fathers’ groups across the country to increase their knowledge and confidence."

The YoungMinds Parents Information Service recently extended its opening hours thanks to funding from the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Parent Know How programme. The helpline now operates 10am-4pm Monday -Friday and 6pm-8pm on Wednesdays.

Calls are handled by experienced and fully qualified advisers who explore parents’ concerns, providing reassurance and useful information. For more complex problems, YoungMinds offers a free one hour telephone consultation with a qualified mental health practitioner or other professional.

The YoungMinds Parents Information Service is much valued by callers: "A brilliant service" said one, "Things have really changed since we spoke to the adviser."

Another commented: "Excellent information and details of other organisations too. More people should know about your service."

YoungMinds is also piloting new ways of helping parents, including an email enquiry service and an online forum so that parents can give and receive peer support on mental health issues.

The YoungMindsParents Information Service can be reached on 0800 0182138

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