YoungMinds Parents Helpline
We offer free, confidential online and telephone support, including information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25.
Please note that demand to the helpline is currently the highest it has ever been. This means it can be very difficult to get through at the moment.
We are really sorry about this and we know that parents and carers need our help. We are working as hard as we can to address this. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
- Call us Monday to Friday 9.30am-4pm on 0808 802 5544 (free for mobiles and landlines).
- Use our contact form and we will respond to your query within 3 working days.
- You can also visit Worried about your child?
- We support callers from all parts of the UK – England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.
"It was really bad, it was terrible, it was a really dark time. We felt absolutely alone; that’s why your organisation was such a godsend."
Our Helpline service is confidential; this means our discussions with people who contact us for advice are private and we will not share personal information with anyone else, without asking first. The only exception to this is if we have reasonable cause to believe a child or vulnerable adult may be at risk of harm or is in danger.
Who contacts the Parents Helpline?
You aren’t alone: over 10,000 people contacted us by telephone and email in 2013. These included parents, carers, and grandparents as well as professionals such as teachers, school nurses and social workers. The only thing to remember is that the child or young person should be under the age of 25.
Some people who contact us are speaking about their concerns for the first time. Our advisors understand how hard this first step can be. Many parents feel guilty – they feel that their child’s problems are all their fault. Our advisors are skilled in listening and do not judge.
Some people wonder if their worries are justified, or if their child’s behaviour is really of concern and that’s why they ring us.
Others may need help in working out what they want to say to their GP or school, have children struggling to get the help that they need, or need coping strategies to manage their child’s behaviour while waiting to get professional help.
I needed help with how I should cope with the situation, and how I should deal with things to stop it escalating more.
What will happen when I call?
When you call the Helpline you will get through to a friendly, trained advisor who will explore your concerns, find out what is worrying you.
They will then go on to help you understand your child’s behaviour, give you practical next steps to get help, and can direct you to the appropriate local or national services.
They also have a wide range of publications that they can send to you free of charge.
Finding the YoungMinds Parents Helpline was a real lifesaver. Talking to someone who had knowledge and experience and could offer guidance and support made a massive difference to both my child and us as parents - to know we were not alone in our time of need."
We find that around a third of callers need further advice. If this is the case for you, we will arrange a (still free and confidential) telephone consultation with a YoungMinds child and family mental health specialist.
These specialists include psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses; all are qualified in child and adolescent mental health. You will be matched with an appropriate specialist for your concerns.
This further consultation will take place within 7 days at a time convenient to you, including weekends and evenings, and will last around 50 minutes. It will give you a chance to think through the situation with an expert, and to work out the best way to resolve the problem.
My daughter had indicated that she was suicidal; I was in the system waiting for her to be assessed. A few days later I received a call-back and spent about an hour talking it through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I email?
Some people find it easier to email and write down their feelings and questions. A Helpline advisor will get back to you within 3 working days of your email – although it is often sooner. Please do consider whether other people around you have access to your emails.
If English is not your first language, please don't be put off - we are members of LanguageLine and can arrange for an interpreter to help you make your call, and to receive your callback if appropriate.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing, speech–impaired or deafblind, please use Typetalk or Textdirect services to contact us, and we will be happy to help you. More information on these services is available at www.typetalk.org.
Alternatively if appropriate you may wish to email us and you can receive advice from the mental health professionals via email too.
What can I ring about?
There is no typical call. Our advisors speak to people about a wide range of problems including, but by no means limited to:
- Behavioural problems
- Eating disorders
- Family relationships
- School problems
It also doesn’t matter if you don’t have a diagnosis or are unsure what is wrong, we can talk this through with you.
How can this call help?
Talking to our advisors will give you practical advice on what to do about your child’s behaviour, and more information about your child’s difficulties.
You can also get guidance about how to contact your GP or child’s school and be more effective, or how to get relevant support from child and adolescent mental health services.
Our advisors are also very reassuring and understanding giving you an opportunity to talk about your concerns in a safe and confidential environment.
A recent independent evaluation showed parents are extremely positive about the service they receive on the helpline.
- 95% of parents found contacting the helpline beneficial
- 96% of parents who received guidance about changing their approach to their child’s behaviour said they made those changes.
- 86% stated that they would recommend it to a friend in a similar situation.
- 38% agreed with the statement that, for them, the helpline was a life saver.
I had felt quite desolate about my situation for years. After speaking to your adviser I felt, for the first time, that someone really understood and that I would be able to cope. I was, and still am, exceeding grateful to that lady.
I have already called once, can I call again?
Yes, you may have further concerns or want to talk through something again. We will give you a reference number so our team can easily find your record and you will not be asked to repeat your whole story again.
What do callers say about us?
They have completely changed our lives really. Just because of a phone call with a lady with a couple of ideas. It’s crazy. It’s amazing. Such good advice.
A lot has changed. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to push for a CAMHS assessment; I would have just accepted what the GP was telling me.
My daughter said that I was much calmer than I had been. This was beneficial for her, and helped her relax.
Even at school they’ve noticed that (my daughter) is dealing with things a bit differently. Her counsellor at school has taken on the ideas that were given to us (by YoungMinds). I didn’t expect it to be this good. They have just made such a big difference.
“I didn’t know what day it was to be honest. If that help hadn’t been there I probably would have done it all wrong and I would have gone of the deep end myself. I don’t think I could have managed the situation without speaking to YoungMinds. I don’t know what I would have done, to be honest with you.”
What do you think of our service?
If you’ve used the Helpline or looked at our section For Parents, we would love to know what you think. Getting feedback from parents and carers helps us know how we’re doing and if there’s anything we can do to improve the service.
Please email your comments using the contact form.
Some of our supporters
Michelle Collins, actress and tv presenter
Tanya Byron - psychologist, writer and broadcaster
“The YoungMinds Parents Helpline is a lifesaver to thousands of parents and carers every year and without more funding it's going to close. I know from my many years experience of working with families that being a parent is both extremely rewarding and at times also challenging and when your kids are struggling it can be very stressful, you blame yourself and you just don’t know where to turn. The Parents Helpline offers expert help to parents and carers who are deeply worried and frightened about what is happening to their kids.
If the Helpline closed none of these people would get the support, advice and reassurance offered on the end of the phone. Please donate now to save it.”
How is the Parents Helpline funded?
The Parents Helpline is funded by the Department for Education, various trusts and foundations, companies and individuals, but this funding runs out March 2015.
We urgently need to raise funds to continue the service. Please consider donating now. Every donation gets us closer to our target and as a small charity providing a big national service it will make a significant difference.
The Helplines Standard
YoungMinds is committed to:
- Treating all parents who contact us with respect, listening to their concerns and doing our best to help
- Answering your call within 30 seconds once you get through
- Delivering calls from our child mental health specialists within 7 working days
- Providing written information packs within 5 working days
- Responding to emails within 3 working days.
You can also contact us to find out more about ways of donating (major donations, trusts and foundations, and companies, for example). Please contact email@example.com if you would like more details.
Please note that Sharon Coleman is a fundraiser. If you are a parent or carer looking for support please use the contact form instead of this email address.