is your child feeling sad/depressed?

Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. However, it is important to remember that everyone experiences tough times, this may lead you to notice one or more of the signs and symptoms below.

If you notice that these continue over an extended period of time, it could be helpful to consider seeking advice. Children and young people need to be encouraged and supported to find helpful, adaptive and safe ways to cope with their thoughts and feelings.

Signs and symptoms



  • Low mood/mood swings/tearfulness.
  • Feeling hopeless, not "seeing the point" in anything.
  • Anxiety/agitation/increased reassurance seeking.
  • Loss of motivation and energy.
  • Lack of patience or irritability.


  • Feeling guilty and/or overwhelmed.
  • Self-doubt and loss of self-esteem/low self-esteem.
  • Difficulties making decisions/concentration.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Fear about the future.
  • Self-harm or thoughts about ending their life.


  • Struggles to complete daily tasks.
  • School refusal/deterioration in academic performance.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • More withdrawn/isolation self from friends or family.
  • Uncommunicative.


  • Headaches
  • Stomach and digestive upset.
  • Change of appetite (over or under eating).
  • Changes to sleep patterns (over sleeping or insomnia).
  • Pain without specific reason.
  • Fatigue/loss of energy or highly agitated.


Crisis Plan Template

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Templates

Headspace (guided meditation and mindfulness app)

Top tips

  • Let the child/young person know you want to understand, help and support.
  • Find time; don't rush the conversation.
  • Stay calm yourself.
  • Be prepared for a child/young person to deny or play down a difficulty.
  • If your child does not want to talk, see if they will write you a note, email or text message about how they feel or would rather speak to someone else (e.g. a GP, school counsellor or helpline).
  • Try to think together of ways to handle strong feelings that don't involve risk behaviour.
  • Break down goals into small steps. Ask how you can support or help them achieve these.
  • Make a mini-crisis plan (please see link in resources section)
  • Try to establish a routine which encourages child/young people to look after themselves by eating well, exercising, sleeping and identify hobbies or activities outside the education.
  • Encourage young people to not self-medicate through alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or illegal drugs.

Further help

  • Speak to your child's/young person's school.
  • Speak to your doctor.
  • Contact your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
  • Contact Young Minds Parent Helpline (0808 802 5544).
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