Children and Young People’s Mental Health

Just as people’s bodies can become unwell, people’s minds can become unwell too. Mental health problems are more common than you might think, on average there are three young people in every classroom with a mental health problem.

As much as there are different kinds of physical illness and different ways to treat them, there are also different types of mental illness and different types of treatments for them. 

But it's not just students with a diagnosed mental health condition who can benefit from support

Anyone who has new challenges could benefit from getting some help and support. This includes if you have:

  • friend, family or relationship issues
  • low mood or losing interest in things you enjoy
  • stress or anxiety about studying, home or anything else

Hillingdon CAMHS also provides community mental health services to children, young people up the age of 18, with complex mental health difficulties, and their families in a range of different ways depending on their needs.

Sometimes people use alcohol and drugs to cope with difficult feelings. But underlying mental health problems could be made worse by drugs or alcohol.

You could be misusing alcohol if:

  • you feel you should cut down on alcohol
  • other people have been criticising your drinking
  • you feel guilty or bad about your drinking
  • you need a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover

Young people who abuse drugs may have a greater risk of developing an addiction when they are adults.

Drug abuse can have long-term effects on your mental health since the teenage brain is still developing. Young people who abuse drugs may also have a greater risk of developing an addiction when they are adults.

SORTED is a confidential service for 11 to 25-year-olds in Hillingdon who are experiencing a drug or alcohol-related problem. Call SORTED on 01895 250721

If you’re worried about your mental health talk to someone

It's important to tell someone how you feel as this may bring an immediate sense of relief.

You could speak to any trusted adult including:

  • friend
  • member of your family
  • teacher
  • counsellor
  • doctor
  • school nurse

You may be referred and seen by the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). You can speak to your teacher, school nurse or GP to discuss a referral or call the service on 01895 256521.

If you don’t feel ready to tell someone you know there are also a number of charities providing mental health support for children and young people

  • Link Counselling Service (Hillingdon) Offers one-to-one counselling, offered free of charge, by appointment, for people aged 13-25 years who live, work or study in The London Borough of Hillingdon. They can be contacted by calling  01895 277 222
  • Kooth – Online anonymous support and counselling. The online chat to professionals runs from 12pm-10pm on weekdays and 6pm-10pm on weekends
  • Best For You ​​​​​exists to make it easier for you to find the support you need. It includes information about mental health, digital tools for anyone in the UK, and personalised mental health services for young people in North West London.
  • Papyrus – Telephone help line runs from 9am-midnight every day, 0800 068 4141
  • Childline – Telephone helpline online chat support, both have qualified counsellors. 0800 1111. They also have a BSL video chat option for children who are deaf or hearing impaired.
  • Young minds – 24/7 Free texting service. Text YM to 85258 texts are answered by trained volunteers. If they think a child or young person is at risk they will share details with someone who can help.
  • Shout – a 24/7 free crisis text service available by texting 85258
  • Samaritans – a 24/7 free confidential help line just call 116 123

These are some (but not all!) of the types of treatments offered at CAMHS (in alphabetical order): Further details on what support CAMHS can help is available on the CNWL CAMHS Website.

Art therapy

Art therapy helps people to express what they are thinking and how they are feeling through the use of art. Art therapy may help you find out more about yourself, which can lead to positive changes. Also, you don’t need to be good at art to have art therapy!

Child and adolescent psychotherapy

Child and adolescent psychotherapy involves meeting with a specially trained therapist who is focused on children and young people. They have an in-depth understanding of how children develop and relate to their families. Seeing a child and adolescent psychotherapist individually can help people to think about their personal difficulties, by exploring how their feelings and thoughts are connected to their relationships and behaviour, and how past experiences can affect their current relationships.

Meetings can involve thinking and talking together. Child psychotherapists work with children and young people on an individual basis, usually in a weekly session, but they also do short-term work with parents or carers and their children together.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is a ‘talking therapy’ that focuses on the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It aims to help you manage your feelings and change any thinking or behaviour patterns you have which might be unhelpful and making your problems worse.

In CBT, you are taught to question your thoughts rather than just assume they are true. You might need to do some experiments or investigate a bit to test the thoughts or find out if there are other ways of thinking. You’ll work with your therapist to try and change things for the better. Your therapist will help you to learn how to do the CBT techniques by yourself, and sometimes with the support of your family.

CBT can be quite short in comparison with other talking therapies. It’s likely you will go to one session per week for six sessions and then review to see if you and your therapist think more are necessary.

Family therapy

Family therapy involves working with you and the people who are important to you. In family therapy sessions, you and the people who come with you are encouraged to consider each other’s points of view, experiences and beliefs and find ways to make positive changes that work for everyone involved.


If CAMHS doctors (psychiatrists) think that you can be helped by medication they will discuss this with you and your parents or carers. They will explain why they think medication could help, any possible side-effects, and your other options.

The doctors will also tell you if there are any checks they need to do before you take or while you are taking the medication, how regularly they’ll need to see you at the clinic, and how long you’ll need to take the medication.

You will have the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions you have about taking medication.