Parents: are you worried about your child?

Children can have a variety of different emotional and behavioural problems. Some of these will be short-lived and others will be disorders that will need treatment.

Going to see any health professional about a child’s emotional or behavioural difficulties can be a very daunting experience. Parents often feel anxious and worried.

A good first step is to talk to a professional who knows your child well. This might be a teacher, social worker or GP. In many cases referral to CAMHS will not be necessary and the professional will be able to offer advice, treatment or tell you about other services that may be able to help. If they think that CAMHS maybe the best option they are often able to refer your child directly to CAMHS.

Remember: CAMHS teams are here to work in partnership with you.

CAMHS is not an emergency service; if you need to get help urgently then you must contact the child’s doctor’s surgery or take them to your nearest Accident & Emergency department.

Worried about your child self harming?

What is self harm?

Self-harming is when someone chooses to inflict pain on themselves in some way. You may self-harm if you are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed or if you are being bullied and feel that you do not have a support network or way to deal with your problems. The issues then ‘build up’ to the point where you feel like you are going to explode. Young people who self-harm often talk about the ‘release’ that they feel after they have self-harmed, as they use it as a mechanism to cope with their problems.

What are the symptoms?

If you are self-harming, you may be cutting or burning yourself, biting your nails excessively, developing an eating disorder or taking an overdose of tablets. It can also include taking drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol. It is usually a sign that something is wrong.

How is it treated?

  • If you can talk to someone, this may help how you are feeling.
  • Talk to your GP about how you feel and any other issues you may have as well as the self-harm for example if you are being bullied or if you are feeling anxious or depressed as it may be that tackling the underlying issues will help you to cope with problems without self-harming.

We do not recommend self-harm and would strongly urge people to always consider alternatives to self-harm first, such as talking about your feelings (if you can), distracting yourself, or trying safer alternatives. For ideas for alternatives to self-harm, or visit here for a full list.

Please note that by its nature, this leaflet contains words that vividly describe injuries and overdoses. This leaflet has been provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.

Safeguarding children – contact details

Staffordshire First Response Team

Tel: 0800 1313 126
Fax: 01785 854223

Emergency out-of-hours

Tel: 0345 6042 886

Stoke-on-Trent Advice and Referral Team

Tel: 01782 235100
Fax: 01782 235457

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire – Police Central Referral Unit

Tel: 0300 123 4455

Safeguarding adults – contact details

Staffordshire Contact Centre (to make a referral)

Tel: 0845 604 2719
Fax: 01785 276026

Stoke-on-Trent Contact Centre (to make a referral)

Tel: 0800 561 0015
Fax: 01782 235720

Emergency Duty Team

Tel: 0345 6042 886

Parents – supportive information ‘keeping your child safe’

The NSPCC has a large collection of free to download leaflets containing advice and guidance for parents on a range of child safety issues including:

Supportive helplines for parents

Young Minds

YoungMinds has a parents’ helpline which gives information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25.

Parents’ survival guide – If you think your child is unhappy or if you are worried about their behaviour, it’s easy to be hard on yourself and think you aren’t doing a good job. Young Minds has some advice for any parent who is worried about their child, or their own parenting skills:

Tel: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am-4pm)
Email: and your query will be responded to in three working days.

Rethink advice line

Rethink provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England and Northern Ireland. It has also developed a ‘Caring for Yourself’ guide to help people with mental health problems and carers, family and friends. If you support someone with any mental health condition, this guide may help you.

Tel: 0300 5000 927 (10am-2pm Monday to Friday)

Mind information line

Tel: 0300 123 3393 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday)