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Supporting a young person to get help

Practical tools for support, Accessing support services
Community support, Youth workers

This resource covers:

This guide provides information to help you support a young person to get help for their mental health, including: the first steps to providing support; how to talk with parents and carers; helpful online support resources; accessing mental health support; and providing ongoing provision.

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Please note that this guide is aimed at speaking to a young person who needs mental health support but isn’t in a mental health crisis. If a young person is having a mental health crisis, they can find support on our urgent helpline page.

Find urgent help

The first step to supporting a young person to get help

A young Black man sitting in the park with a Black teenage boy wearing a hearing aid. They are both looking very serious.

Young people have told us they reach out to adults they trust – those that don’t judge, do listen and are consistent with them. Reaching out for help can often be the hardest step for young people. If they have already reached out to you, it shows a level of trust and openness to support.

However, this can feel like a big responsibility and you may feel pressure to ‘solve’ how they’re feeling. This isn’t your responsibility and there are ways you can support them without feeling overwhelmed. In moments like this, it’s good to know what support you can provide to get them the mental health support they need.

If a young person has chosen to speak to you, you may find it helpful to explore who else is around them that might be able to offer support. We would always recommend including young people in their care too, so ask them how they feel about speaking to family members. 

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Connections activity

Our connections activity can help you open up conversations about the other adults in a young person's life and consider who else might be able to offer support. Talk through the benefits that may come from reaching out, and let the young person share the risks/fears they have. This will help you have a better understanding of the young person's situation and feelings.

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Document size: <1MB

Download the connections activity

Talking with parents and carers

A close up of a mother and her daughters doing homework together in the lounge

Often parents and carers are the key adults in a young person’s life who can support them to get help for their mental health, and you can play an important role in supporting conversations between a young person and their parent or carer.

Make sure you understand your safeguarding procedures when having these conversations, and speak to the designated safeguarding lead for your organisation so you know what actions you might need to take.

Consider the following topics when having a conversation with parents or carers about their child's mental health.

Parents and carers might be worried about what people think or whether they are at fault. They may have attitudes or opinions towards mental health that are different to yours. They may be feeling worried, anxious, confused, isolated or angry because they don’t know what to do and they want their child to be okay, or because they don’t understand and are frustrated at the situation. Use collaborative language, asking if the parent has noticed anything, rather than making the parent feel like they have missed something. 

Encourage them to call our Parents Helpline if they’re unsure or want advice and support on what to do next.

Parents Helpline and Webchat

It can be difficult to judge when the time is right to have a conversation with a parent. If they are collecting their child from your activity you may feel like there’s an opportunity to speak face to face. But this time can also feel rushed or inappropriate, and may be interrupted.

Ask the young person you are helping how they feel most comfortable with you approaching their parents/carers and include them in the conversation. This could involve asking them to come early or stay after the end of the session so that you aren’t interrupted by others.

Depending on the situation, you can act as a signpost to further support and services for a young person and their parents/carers. Consider if there is a referral your organisation can offer or if the family need to visit their GP, or both.

You can suggest to parents and carers that they look at the information and advice guides on our website or call our Parents Helpline.

Mental health guides for parents and carers

Our Activists shared with us a number of ways their cultural identity can have a positive impact on their mental health, as well as highlighting some challenges they face which impact their mental wellbeing.

It is important to be aware that there are many factors that may play a part in when and how a young person wishes to reach out to other services, or share how they are feeling with their parents and carers. And it is important to respect these.

Our young person's guide to cultural identity and mental health explores further how to navigate expectations and pressures, and how to get the right support.

Guide to cultural identity and mental health

Sometimes these conversations can feel difficult and overwhelming. If it feels too much, remember you can always pass the conversation on to another team member. Talking to someone supportive afterwards, or taking some time to yourself, is also important if the conversation was upsetting or challenging for you.

Signposting to online support

A young Black woman talking about something serious with an older Black woman in the park.

Parent help finder

Our help finder tool for parents and carers makes finding information and advice on our website easy. Share this tool with parents so they can read more about mental health and how they can provide support for their children.

Parent help finder
A young Black man standing outside a front door with a Black teenage boy wearing a hearing aid. They are talking together about something serious.

Young person help finder

Signpost young people to our young person help finder so they can find the right support. We have lots of advice guides to support young people with their mental health, including guides on feelings, mental health conditions, difficult life situations and medications. We also have advice on mental health services and reaching out for help.

Young person help finder

Accessing mental health support available to young people

Local support services

  • Your local NHS or local authority website should contain information about local mental health support for children and young people. These may be called the Local Offer and Information Advice and Support (IAS) service.


  • Young people over the age of 18 may be able to self-refer to talking therapies online via the NHS without visiting their GP. CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) sometimes take self-referrals from children and young people under 18, but this depends on your local authority.

Early help and intervention services

  • Early help may be offered to families facing a particularly challenging time, or if a child does not meet the threshold for specialist support, such as CAMHS. In some areas it is also possible to self-refer to early help.

    Early help practitioners can work with parents to identify what the family needs and put support in place to prevent things from getting worse.

    Our parents' guide to early help which explains how the service works and how it can be accessed.

Visiting the GP

  • You will need a GP referral to access some mental health services. Children can attend the GP with their parents or carers. The parents/carers are also able to visit the GP on behalf of their child if the child is unable to attend themselves, and above a certain age, with their permission. There is no age limit set by the NHS on the age a young person can attend the GP alone.

Providing ongoing support for the young people you work with

There will be young people in your community living fulfilling lives while also managing a mental health condition. They will have good days where they may need little or no support, and bad days where more support than usual will be needed.

If you are someone in a young person's support network and playing a part in their recovery, it is important to consider how you can provide ongoing support.

Take a look at our tips below to help you.

1. Acknowledge your limits

It is unlikely that you are working with this young person in a clinical context or as a trained mental health practitioner, so make sure you are aware of the limits to your expertise and the care you can provide.

It’s important to recognise what is and what isn’t expected of you in your role, and what you’re able to offer. Knowing these boundaries will help you and the young person recognise when clinical support is needed, but also what role you may have in supporting the young person's transition into/out of clinical care.

2. Consider when is best to check in with a young person

Young people tell us they don’t want to always talk about their mental health, even if it is a big part of their life. Think about when might be a good time to check in with a young person about their mental health, and remember there’s more to them than just their mental wellbeing.

Our guide for professionals can support you with this.

When to check in with a young person

3. Include the young person in their care

Consider the wants and needs of the young person, and their ideas of how to keep in touch or receive support. This might involve:

  • introducing or increasing one-to-one meetings
  • having a safe space they can retreat to if needed during a session
  • joining/leaving part way through a session
  • asking them for their thoughts
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'Help me by...' worksheet

Our ‘Help me by…’ worksheet provides some prompts for young people to consider how they might want your ongoing support.

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Document size: <1MB

Download the activity

Some more tips to keep in mind

  • Confidentiality and safeguarding

    It’s important that you know what you can and cannot keep confidential and that you know what to do with safeguarding concerns.

    Talk to your designated safeguarding lead if you are unsure in a situation.

  • Looking after yourself

    Know what you have to do to recover when you have been giving support to others. Looking after yourself is valuable to you and the young person you are working with.

  • Seeking support from others

    Remember you are not alone. Ask for help from other colleagues and volunteers.

Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.

Please be aware that this form isn’t a mental health support service. If you or a young person you work with is in crisis right now and wants to talk to someone urgently, find out who to contact on our urgent help page.

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Please note:

This form is not a mental health support service. We cannot reply to this. If you or a young person you know is at immediate risk of harm, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E. If you are worried about the mental health of a young person you work with, you can signpost them to our website or suggest they contact one of these helplines: Childline (for under 19s) on 0800 11 11; or Samaritans on 116 123.

At YoungMinds we take your privacy seriously. If you’d like to read more about how we keep the information we collect safe, take a look at our privacy policy.

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