Parent's Guide to Depression

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Going to your GP

Raising concerns about your son or daughter’s mental wellbeing with your GP or another professional can be very difficult.

You, or your child, may be worried that they will be “labelled”, concerned about the type of treatment or medication that may be offered or even whether hospital admittance may be necessary.

Try not to worry about these things if you can. The outlook is good in most cases, and seeking help sooner rather than later in a local community setting is always best. Supporting your child in accessing a GP is a positive move.

Seek specialist advice

When you contact your surgery, ask if there is a GP in your practice who specialises in mental health. If not, ask your friends if they have any experience of local GPs in this regard. Wherever possible, seek out a specialist who will understand your situation.

Book a double appointment

Explain the situation to the receptionist and request a double appointment, if possible. This will give you or your child more time to fully discuss the symptoms and your concerns. Accompany your child to the appointment, and be prepared to be asked to leave so that the GP can speak to your son or daughter alone.

The GP will want to understand what is happening, why you are worried, and will need to know details: if possible, keep a written note of the warning signs and their severity and frequency to share during this time. Book a second appointment for yourself if you wish to speak in confidence to the GP about the ‘ripple effect’ of your child’s depression on you and your family.

What will the GP want to know?

The Doc Ready app is a very helpful resource, designed specifically to help young people prepare for, and get the most out of, their first GP appointment to discuss their mental health. The GP will be looking to understand:

  • What are the triggers to the depression?
  • How long has it been going on for, and how severe does it seem?
  • Are there any self-harm or suicidal thoughts?
  • How is home, school and social life; is there any bullying or abuse?
  • Have there been any changes in self-care, eating, sleeping, exercise, drug or alcohol usage?
  • Is there a family history of depression?

Are there any new risky behaviours or impulsive acts?

Mental health assessment

Your son or daughter may be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the severity of the problem. The GP may also suggest a more detailed assessment is carried out by a mental health specialist (such as a young people’s mental health nurse).

The GP should explain this to you. It is within your rights to ask for a more detailed mental health assessment from a psychologist or a psychiatrist on behalf of your child. A young person over 18 years can also ask for this themselves.

Confidentiality

There are strict confidentiality protocols when it comes to your son or daughter and their GP if they are under 18.

The practice will have a confidentiality policy you may ask to see. Make sure you understand and know your rights.

Your child may want to know that their privacy will be respected and looked after. You may also wish to ask your child’s school about its confidentiality protocols and policies and to confirm what and how information is stored and shared about pupils.

 

Therapies and treatment

Resources

Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for parents

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

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Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for teachers

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

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Resource

Asking for help

Tips for young people on when it’s time to talk about their mental health, or if they want to help a friend

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Resource

Coping with self-harm (Welsh)

This Welsh language guide includes information on the nature and causes of self-harm and how to support a young person for parents and carers.

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Resource

Depression booklet

Featuring useful facts, figures and information, this booklet also contains sources of help and what not to say to people experiencing depression

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Resource

Guide to depression for parents and carers

This booklet aims to help recognise and understand depression and how to get appropriate help for their child

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Resource

Guide to depression for parents and carers (Welsh)

This booklet aims to help parents recognise and understand depression and how to get appropriate help for their child

View resource
Resource

Looking after yourself during your GCSEs - A guide for pupils

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

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Resource

Low mood poster

Poster created in partnership with Bank Workers Charity highlighting common causes of low mood, how to help yourself feel better and information on where to get more help.

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Resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

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Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

View resource

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