Depression: A guide for parents and carers

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Suicidal thoughts and self-harm

If you are worried that your child is thinking of harming themselves or is feeling suicidal, it is always better to ask about this than ignore it. Open and supportive conversation can make all the difference.

Ask clearly and gently: “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

There’s no avoiding the gravity of the situation. If you have serious concerns, then ask your child outright. It’s important that you know exactly what is on their mind.

If the answer is yes, ask: “Do you have a plan, such as how and when?”

Your child may have given serious thought and consideration to suicidal feelings. Being clear and direct about this, without judgement, may help your child realise that they are not alone in their pain.

If they have a plan, the risk level is higher. Ask: “what has stopped you so far?”

Take time to understand how fully your child has worked through suicidal thoughts and whether there are positive and practical reasons preventing them from acting further. This could be a positive foundation on which to build further.

It is important for them and you to understand what keeps them safe

By speaking openly together, you may learn what your child needs you to do to protect them from self-harm or suicide. You can then directly act on this information.

If you think your child is at risk of suicide, seek medical help immediately

Contact your GP or A&E for professional medical advice and support. Be open with your child and let them know that this is what you, as their parent or carer, need to do to help them.

Out of hours help is also available

Social Services or mental health CRISIS teams are made up of psychiatric nurses, social workers and support workers who provide emergency support and short-term help out of office hours. To find local help, call 111.

Asking young people about suicide is not the same thing as suggesting it to them

Your child will have encountered suicide before, in books, TV shows and elsewhere in popular culture. It’s an unavoidable part of life and should be spoken about honestly. You will not be putting the idea into their head; you are simply gauging the seriousness of the situation.

Letting them know that you care is better than not asking at all

Don’t put off a conversation with your child if you have any concerns whatsoever. Being caring and making your child aware that you will help them to get help should be both reassuring and comforting at a time when they may be feeling very alone.

Self-harm

Self-harm (such as cutting) can often be a coping mechanism. It is not necessarily associated with depression. Do not assume that self-harm is the same as suicidal intention. But even so it can be alarming. Take time to learn more about the reasons behind why young people self-harm and what you can do to help.

 

Learn when to act and what to do

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.

View resource
Resource

Coping with self-harm

This 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

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

View resource
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

View resource
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.

View resource
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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