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What to do if your child needs mental health support

Children suffer from mental health problems just like adults.  

Deaf children are 30% to 50% more likely to experience mental health challenges, compared to hearing children. It is important you know how to get specialist help if needed. 

Where to get help

The National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (NDCAMHS) works with D/deaf children and young people aged 0 – 18 who have emotional or behavioural issues. They specialise in supporting children and young people:

  • with a severe to profound hearing loss
  • who have D/deaf parents
  • who use BSL as their first language

The service helps children to cope with and understand their emotions, feelings and thoughts and is available for children experiencing:

  • anger issues
  • behaviour challenges
  • depression
  • eating problems
  • family issues – a relative may have died, or parents may be divorcing
  • friendship problems – a child may be bullied
  • obsessions
  • school challenges
  • suicidal feelings
  • stress

You can ask a professional working with your child to make a referral to an NDCAMHS, such as:

  • GPs
  • Health visitors
  • Paediatricians
  • Schools
  • Social workers
  • Teachers
  • Youth counsellors
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) provides a helpline, support groups and other events and services which can support you and your family.

Our Therapy Service is for Deaf people aged 18 and over.

We do work with NDCAMHS when a young person needs to transfer from children’s services to adult services.

Find more information about our therapy.

Difficult behaviour might only last a short time. All children go through stages of feeling anxious or angry. They can show this in lots of ways, for example, tantrums, crying, sleeping problems or fighting with friends or siblings. They might be adapting to a change in the family or at school, or just trying out new emotions. Children will generally grow out of worrying behaviour on their own or with family support.

Supporting your child

  • Discuss the challenges with your child. Even young children can understand more about feelings and behaviour if you give them a chance to share. 
  • Let them know you are there if they need you. With older children, they might not want to share at first. Let them know you are concerned about them, and are there if they need you. Sending an email or a text can work better if this is the way your child likes to communicate.
  • Ask your child what they think would help. They often have good ideas about solving their own problems.
  • Try to discuss your worries with your child’s other parent, when the child is not around. They might have a different take on what’s going on. Try and sort out how to deal with the behaviour together so you are using the same approach, and can back each other up. Children are quick to spot if parents disagree, and can try and use this to get their own way.
  • Ask for a referral. Any professional working with your child can refer them to the National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (NDCAMHS) or other mental health services for children and young people.

Parent-child relationship

  • Make sure they know you love them and are proud of them. 
  • Be honest about your feelings – you don’t have to be perfect. We all get things wrong. If this happens, say sorry to your child afterwards and explain why it happened. They will learn from you that it’s OK to make mistakes and that it doesn’t make you a bad person.
  • Be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable – and explain why. 
  • Own your role as the parent. If your child sees you are scared of their reaction and always give in to them, it can make them feel very powerful, which can be frightening. Children need to know that you are there to keep them safe.

Looking after yourself

If your child is having problems, don’t be too hard on yourself or blame yourself. Children often take it out on those closest to them. You might be feeling the effect of their very powerful emotions.

If you had a difficult time growing up, or have had emotional problems or mental health challenges, it can be very worrying to think that the same thing might happen to your child. But the love and care you show them and the fact that you are trying to help will protect against this. Getting help for them and perhaps for yourself too can give them the best chance of feeling better.

  • Recognise how you’re feeling. If things are getting you down, it’s important to recognise this. Talk to someone you trust and see what they think. Many people go on struggling with very difficult situations because they feel they should be able to cope, and don’t deserve any help.
  • Friends and family can often help. Don’t be afraid to ask them to have your child for a bit if you need some time out to sort out your own stuff. 
  • Take time for yourself. In reality this may not feel possible, but even a night in with a friend or your favourite dinner can help.
  • Go to your GP if things are really getting difficult. Asking for some support from your doctor or a referral to a counselling service is a sign of strength. You can’t help your child if you are not being supported yourself. Some people worry their parenting will be judged and their children will be taken away if they admit they are struggling to cope. This should only happen if a child is being abused or neglected and the role of professionals is to support you to look after your child as well as you can.

More advice for parents can be found at YoungMinds.

We offer psychological therapy in BSL

Contact our therapy team

Text 07966 976747
Call 014 9468 7606

SignHealth Crisis Text Service

If you are deaf and experiencing a crisis, text DEAF to 85258 for free and immediate support.

Learn More