Information for young people, parents, carers and families

Children, young people and mental health

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Types of mental health problem

The phrase ‘mental health problem’ is used to describe a wide range of symptoms and experiences. These can be things like anxiety, depression, eating disorders or schizophrenia. Mental health problems can develop at any time and each person’s experience is individual to him or her. They can last anything from several weeks to a lifetime. For more information on common concerns about mental health that affect young people please check out the YoungMinds website.

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What is stigma?

The word ‘stigma’ has been around for a long time. It was invented by the Ancient Greeks who put a mark on people who they thought were different, or not worth much, like slaves, for example. Nowadays, it is usually related to something that is seen as shameful or disgraceful. Being affected by stigma can make a person feel hurt and rejected by others. It can make them feel that they are not valuable and that they are treated differently.

Unfortunately, lots of people think this way about people who might have mental health problems. This is because they don’t have a proper understanding about mental health. No one should have to hide their mental health problems, or experience the effects of stigma.

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What is the Tackling Stigma Toolkit?

In 2006, Fiona Warner-Gale developed the Tackling Stigma Framework after talking to children and parents about how they felt about the stigma that is attached to mental health. After Fiona found out what children, young people and their parents thought about stigma, she developed a way of helping to challenge and change people’s beliefs about mental health and children and young people.

The Tackling Stigma Toolkit is aimed at all children’s services. It helps them look at the way they work with children and young people who might need help for their mental health problems. Children, young people and their parents are very important to the Tackling Stigma Toolkit, as they can help explain to professionals how things are from their point of view and how they think things should be.

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How can children, young people and families get involved?

Children and young people should be at the centre of the Tackling Stigma work. Lots of children and young people have been involved in the pilots. They have designed lots of interesting ways of helping other children, young people and adults understand more about mental health. These included designing websites, filming DVDs, recording radio jingles and drawing positive mental health logos.

Now the pilots have finished we want to get the message out across the country about the Tackling Stigma Toolkit.

Children and young people who have been involved in the pilots thought that the Toolkit has helped to make a difference. Here are some of the things children have said the Toolkit can do:

If you are interested in helping to tackle stigma you can talk to your parents, teachers and other young people about using the toolkit in your area. You can also contact your local children’s and young peoples’ groups or Very Important Kids (VIK) run by Young Minds.

You can also print off a pdf of the Tackling Stigma Toolkit to show to people. You can read more about the Tackling Stigma project and what children and young people thought about it by downloading this summary for children and young people.

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Where can I find more information about children’s and young people’s mental health and/or stigma or getting involved?

Want to talk about something that worries you?

  • Website ChildLine
    The Childline helpline is free for children and young people. You can contact ChildLine in four ways. You can phone ChildLine on 0800 1111, send an email, have a 1-2-1 online chat with a ChildLine counsellor and you can send a message to Ask Sam. You can also post messages to the ChildLine message boards. Their website includes lots of useful information and advice.

  • Website Useful links (YoungMinds)
    This website includes some useful links for helplines, support groups and other useful information.

Getting involved in changing things

  • Website Very Important Kids (VIK)
    VIK is a group of 25 children and young people, aged 11 to 24, representing young people across the country and advising YoungMinds on its policy and campaign objectives.

  • Website Participation Works
    Participation Works is an online gateway for children and young people's participation. It is a hub for information, resources, news and networking on the involvement of young people in dialogue, decision making and influence across a wide range of settings. Through the gateway you can explore issues and find resources in the about Participation section, subscribe to news via RSS or e-mail, read about the latest participation training and events in the Events Diary, find case studies, toolkits and resources in the Resource Hub and link with other participation workers through the Participation Works Network for England.

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