Depression in children and young people
What is the difference between low mood and depression in children and young people?
Low mood may come and go, whereas depression is when a child or young person is struggling with feelings of sadness over a long period of time that won't go away.
Go to the NHS Choices web page - 'What's the difference between low mood and depression in children?'
Spotting the signs of depression in children and young people
Symptoms of depression are more obvious to spot in young people than in children.
Young people have more awareness of their mental health and so will confide in a friend or trusted adult. However, primary school-aged children are less likely to know what depression is and ask for help as their emotional maturity is not as well developed as young people.
Common signs that your child may be depressed might be depressed are:
- Change of appetite,
- Sleep disturbances,
- Sadness and agitation,
- Lloss of interest in things they used to enjoy.
The Place2Be website has useful guidance on how you can start supporting your child’s mental health.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists - has practical advice for parents and carers on helping your child to cope with depression.
Helping to educate your child or young person about depression can help them to talk to you about their feelings now or later down the line.
This will make it easier for you to recognise when your child is emotionally unwell and in need of support.
I think my child is depressed, where can I get support?
Get some professional advice and support, you can:
- Make an appointment with your child/young person to see a GP.
- Don't ignore the problem.
- Get advice about emotional wellbeing support from the Barnardo's Phoneline Service
- If you feel they need more specialist mental health support, make a referral to the Children & Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub (East and West suffolk) Or go to the Just One Norfolk website if you live in Lowestoft or Waveney.
- Young People can text the ChatHealth Service - for confidential health advice from a school nurse.
- Young people can go online to access wellbeing counselling and peer support from Kooth - Kooth is a free and friendly online emotional wellbeing website for 11-25 year olds.
- Contact Suffolk Wellbeing Service
- Contact YoungMinds Parent Helpline
If your young person is emotionally distressed and needs urgent mental health support they can now call 111 and press option to for the NHS Mental Health Crisis Support Line - a 24/7 helpline for anyone of any age in Norfolk and Suffolk.
If they are in a life-threatening emergency situation call 999.
Talking to your child/young person about their thoughts and feelings
You may find the below websites useful for how to start a conversation with your child/young person:
Resources to support children/young people's emotional wellbeing
- Childline website - depression and feeling sad page
- The Source website - Depression advice page
- YoungMinds website -Depression and your child.
- YoungMinds Website Parents Lounge
- Royal College of Psychiatrists Website - Mental health books section
The Boy, The Mole and The horse, by Charlie Mackesy - This is a wonderfully heart-warming book which provides thoughtful, positive life lessons through the animal characters. Charlie is a Suffolk based illustrator whose art is known around the world.
Suffolk Libraries - has a list of self-help books suitable for young people and parent/carers available to request. Visit: www.suffolklibraries.co.uk
Suffolk Parent Hub - has various book recommendations to help parent/carers support children with all sorts of issues. Visit: Suffolk Count Council Website - Parent Hub
For helpful Apps that can provide some in-hand support to a young person, please see our list of recommended wellbeing Apps approved by young people on The Source website. Visit:The Source - 'if the App fits' page
Find local support groups and organisations who can help?
To search for emotional wellbeing support groups in your area see our list: Local support groups and organisations for depression
(you can filter the list for what you need).