A-Z of topics

About mental health

We all have mental health in the same way that we have physical health. Mental health is about all our emotions, both positive and negative. Our mental health affects everything we do, and how we think and feel about our everyday lives.

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Feeling angry at times is as natural as feeling happy or sad, but it's important for children and young people to learn how to express their anger effectively.

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Children and young people feel anxious when they are frightened, worried or stressed, and we can help them to recognise and deal with these feelings.

Read more about anxiety


All children and young people will grieve following the death of someone close. Bereavement is a natural process and with the right support, they will be able to cope and adapt to the changes.

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Bullying is one of the most common problems that children and young people face. It can be very difficult for them to talk about, and they may not know what to do about it.

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Character strengths

Encouraging children and young people to find and use their strengths can help improve their wellbeing, happiness and sense of self-worth.

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Having confidence helps us deal with challenges, feel comfortable with ourselves and form relationships with others.

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Being involved in creative activities is fun and can help children and young people have positive experiences.

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Depression and low mood

It is normal for children and young people to have ups and downs in their mood. If their mood remains low for a prolonged period of time or they feel down most of the time, they may need support.

Read more about depression and low mood

Eating problems - eating too much

A change in a child or young person's eating pattern is likely to be a passing phase. However, if you are concerned that a child or young person may have Binge Eating Disorder or Bulimia, it is important to get help as early as possible.

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Eating problems - not eating enough

A change in a child or young person's eating pattern is likely to be a passing phase. However, if you are concerned that a child or young person may have Anorexia, it is important to get help as early as possible.

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Eating well

As well as having a healthy balanced diet, eating well is also about having healthy attitudes and behaviours around food and eating.

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Emotional balance

Getting the right balance of positive and negative emotions, at least most of the time, can lead to good mental health.

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Encouraging positive behaviour

Children and young people should always be praised for positive behaviour. You may want to use rewards to help with encouraging positive behaviour so the child or young person can see how well they are doing.

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Five ways to wellbeing

Are we all getting our 5-a-day? Research has shown that there are five ways we can all improve our mental health and emotional wellbeing.

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Good relationships

Children and young people get a sense of connection and belonging from having good relationships with the people around them.

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Gratitude is the feeling and expression of being thankful. Being grateful can help increase children and young people's happiness and wellbeing.

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Hyperactivity and inattention

Children and young people are naturally energetic, restless and excitable. They may be fidgety or noisy, or have difficulty concentrating. It is only more extreme hyperactivity and inattention that may be a sign of ADHD or ADD.

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Mindfulness is about being fully aware of living in the present moment, and has been shown to have long term benefits for health and happiness.

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Obsessions and compulsions

Many children and young people have habits that they follow every day, and these can be comforting. However, if they are experiencing habits which have become compulsive and obsessive, they may need support to deal with this.

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Optimism is about expecting things to go well, and seeing the glass as 'half full'. There are many ways to help children and young people develop optimism.

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Panic attacks

Having a panic attack can be very distressing, so it's important to know what to do to help a child or young person in this situation.

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Parent or family member in prison

Many children and young people have the experience of a parent or family member in prison. With the right support from the people around them, they will be able to cope and learn to deal with all the changes.

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Parental separation

Children and young people's reactions to parental separation will vary depending on their age and stage, and on the circumstances around the separation.

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A child or young person’s phobia is very personal and real to them, but with support can be managed or resolved.

Read more about phobias


Relaxation is important for our mental health, and there are many relaxation exercises that children and young people can try.

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School refusal / reluctance to attend school

There are many reasons why a child or young person may not want to go to school. Identifing these reasons as soon as possible will help make it easier to find solutions.

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A lot of young people self-harm, and many adults find it difficult to deal with. However negative and self-destructive it may seem to hurt your own body, for some young people self-harm can serve many important functions.

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Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development, but it can be quite difficult for parents and carers to cope with.

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Temper tantrums

Tantrums are a normal part of childhood. Children do not have tantrums to intentionally annoy you - they often happen because a child is frustrated, over-tired or when they feel they are not getting enough attention.

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Many children and young people have tics, and they are often related to stress and anxiety. There are things you can do to support children and young people with tics.

Read more about tics