I am a parent: where can I get information and advice?

If you are a parent who is worried about your child’s mental health, there is support available to you.

Your GP

If you are worried about the mental health of a young person, you can always bring them to see their GP. As with adults, a GP can support and advise or treat the young person themselves. They can also give you information about supports for both yourself and the young person in your local area.

Counselling and psychotherapy support

You could also go to a counsellor or psychotherapist who specialises in treating children and young people. You can ask your GP for a referral or search for one through one of the professional or voluntary bodies. Please see our section on counselling and psychotherapy for more information.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Children and young people experiencing mental health difficulties may be referred by their GP on to specialist mental health services for treatment. In Ireland, these are delivered through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It is important to note that 98% of children are treated for mental health difficulties at primary care; only a small percentage will go on to seek treatment at specialist services level.

Other supports provided by the Government and Mental Health Reform’s members:

Parenting information from the Family Support Agency

The Family Support Agency website has a number of useful online booklets, including a booklet called “Parenting positively: Teenage Well-Being”, an information booklet for parents of children under 12 who are experiencing bullying and separate information for parents of teenagers who are being bullied.

Headstrong youth mental health supports

Headstrong is a mental health organisation for young people. Headstrong have community centres, under the “Jigsaw” programme, that offer guidance to parents on the mental health of young people. Locations and opening times for Jigsaw centres can be found here.

Bodywhys information for parents on eating disorders

Bodywhys has an information booklet for parents who are worried that their child might have an eating disorder. They also have an information and support line that you can call on 1890 200 444 and an email service: alex@bodywhys.ie. Bodywhys also provide free support groups for parents or family members supporting someone with an eating disorder (groups are over 18s). The group aims to provide a safe and non-judgmental space where you can share challenges with people who are going through a similar experience.

SpunOut and Headsup youth mental health

Spunout and Headsup are websites that provide support and information that is easily accessible and written with young people in mind. Their websites include advice, information on where to find supports and blogs written by other young people. Visit them at www.spunout.ie and www.headsup.ie.

HSE information for parents on alcohol or substance misuse

If you are concerned about your child’s alcohol or substance misuse, the HSE website has a section with information on addiction services. They also have a drug and alcohol helpline that you can call for support, information or guidance on 1800 459 459 or email at helpline@hse.ie. The HSE have also funded a website called www.drugs.ie which offers drug and alcohol information and support. Your GP should be able to link you in with HSE addiction services.

Information on self-harm from the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP)

The National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) have an information leaflet on self-harm for parents. The leaflet explores why people self-harm, who might be at risk of self-harming and how you can help young people who are self-harming. NOSP explains that self-harm does not necessarily indicate that the person is having thoughts of suicide. Rather, self-harm could be seen as an expression of very difficult or overwhelming emotions.

Support for parents

If you are experiencing emotional distress as a result of coping with the mental health difficulties of a child, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123. You can also email them at jo@samaritans.org.