Mental Health

For children

  • What is good mental health and wellbeing for children?

    Good mental health and wellbeing is when everything is OK, you feel happy, can enjoy life and have fun with family and friends. Sometimes things can be a bit hard and you might feel very sad or upset. When you feel like this there are people who can help.

    It is important to tell someone you trust about how you feel.

    Our goal is to help you learn about yourself, get better from any mental health difficulties or mental illness and to become the best you can be – to have great mental health and wellbeing! We work with you and your families and sometimes your teacher so everyone can be helped at the same time to make things easier for you to feel better.

    Click on the buttons below to see if we can help you.

    Who can help me?

    There are lots of people who can help you when you need it. Some of them are:

    • Your family
    • Teachers
    • Friends
    • Other adults you trust

    When you need a little more help than that there are people who have special training to help children when their mental health is not good. These might be people at school, like school counsellors or your doctor to start with. They might send you to see other people, like us at the RCH Mental Health or someone who has their own clinic (a private practitioner).

    There's nothing to be afraid of. It's really good to tell someone you how you are thinking and feeling and when you think it is time to get some extra help. The quicker you start, the faster you will feel better.

    What happens at the RCH Mental Health?

    First, we get an idea of what's happening in your life and work out who is the best person for you to see.

    When you see us, you might meet one or more of our trained people (we call them clinicians). They will talk with you and your family about what seems to be the matter and they will work with you to see how we can help. You might be asked some questions, or to do some other activities with the clinician. Sometimes these can be quite fun, like drawing or playing games. This helps us work out what you are good at as well as what's not going so well.

    Often we will write a report about why you have come to see us and what we think might be good things to do to help you recover. We will also make sure that you are safe and people know what to do while you are getting better. You may have some new things to practice, which can help too.

    You might see us more than once, but we will tell you. Sometimes our clinicians come to your school or visit you at home if you can't come to us. You might see us in different places, like the hospital or the clinic in the community. It just depends what you need. We will make sure you know if this is going to happen.

    What can I do if…?

    I feel worried

    I feel worried

    Most people worry sometimes. We might worry about talking in front of a group, trying something new, or feeling scared when it's dark. Feeling afraid or having worries can become a problem if it bothers you most days and stops you from doing everyday things. Talk to someone about your worries if you notice any of these:

    • Having trouble falling asleep or having nightmares
    • Getting aches and pains in your body, like a stomach ache or headache (when there is no other reason)
    • Having difficulty concentrating or remembering things in school
    • Feeling too nervous to say what you want
    • Finding it hard to make friends because you feel shy
    • Not wanting to leave familiar people or go to new places.

    A family member, teacher or other person you trust can help you not to worry. Tips that are helpful for everyone include:

    • Talking about your worries/fears with someone you trust
    • Taking deep breaths or using gentle exercises to calm your body and thoughts
    • Getting your mind off worries and thinking about nice, happy thoughts
    • Become brave by trying something new and get better with more practice!

    It is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician (a specially-trained person).

    Click here for other helpful community resources for children

    I feel sad

    I feel sad

    Everyone has happy times and sad times in life. You might feel sad when you have lost something important, are hurt, or during a sad movie. Some people have problems in life that make them have strong sad feelings that may bother them for a much longer time.

    Do you notice if you are:

    • Crying a lot
    • Not smiling and laughing as much as you used to
    • Having a change in your sleeping and eating patterns
    • Having trouble paying attention at school
    • Getting cranky more easily
    • Feeling unhappy about yourself a lot?

    It is important to get help with sad feelings as soon as you notice that it's a problem. Talk to a family member or teacher about your feelings and anything else you notice about your feelings. They might have new ideas to improve your happiness. Some good ideas to start with include:

    • Getting help with any problems that might be bothering you
    • Planning to do nice, fun things to help you feel better
    • Making sure you are sleeping well and eating well
    • Giving your brain a rest by thinking about fun, relaxing or happy things.

    It is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician (a specially-trained person).

    Click here for other helpful community resources for children

    I feel angry

    I feel angry

    It can be hard to stay calm sometimes. When a person feels cross or annoyed, they might also feel angry. For example: losing a computer game, being annoyed by someone, not getting what you want, not being understood, or not making sense of your schoolwork. Everyone feels angry sometimes but it usually doesn't last. Signs that you may be getting angry include:

    • Clenching your fists
    • Throwing things or punching something
    • Feeling hot or going red in the face
    • Yelling or saying hurtful things
    • Having thoughts about hurting something, someone yourself
    • Wanting to run away.

    You might be being bullied. This may also make you feel angry because it isn't fair and it hurts when others say mean things.

    It is important to be the boss of anger and not let it get out of control. Kids usually need help from adults to be calm and strong. You have a better chance of staying calm if you can relax or chill-out away from others. Tips for people who want to be more cam and strong include:

    • Telling other people how you feel before the anger gets stronger
    • Telling an adult you trust if you are being bullied
    • Asking for help from someone you trust
    • Having a special, quiet space or chill-out area you can go to be calm
    • Taking ten deep, slow breaths and let your body and mind calm down
    • Punching a big pillow or yelling in to it to help the anger to go away.

    Finding safe ways to be angry and show your feelings is important. If getting really angry happens most days, it is a good idea to get more help. Speak to a family member or teacher (or someone you trust). They may have other good ideas.

    It is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician (a specially-trained person).

    Click here for other helpful community resources for children

    I'm unhappy at school

    I'm unhappy at school

    There are lots of new and interesting things to do at school. School can be good and bad. Get help if you notice that you are unhappy there most of the time. Problems at school may include:

    • Not being able to understand or finish your work
    • Having trouble making or keeping friends
    • Feeling worried or nervous about things at school a lot of the time
    • Not wanting to leave home in the morning to go to school
    • Feeling 'sick' when you think about school
    • Being bullied by someone.

    Family members and teachers are there to help kids who are having difficulties at school. Talk to them about what makes you feel unhappy or worried. The problem might get easier! Other ideas include:

    • Getting extra help with schoolwork
    • Having a special adult at school to talk to regularly
    • Building up your confidence by trying a new activity outside of school
    • Having some fun things to look forward to at the end of the school day.

    It is important to get help, and sometimes that means meeting and talking with a mental health clinician (a specially-trained person).

    Click here for other helpful community resources for children

    I'm worried about a friend or parent

    I'm worried about a friend or parent

    A lot of people worry about a friend or family member. That's quite normal.

    If you are worried about somebody you could talk it over with someone you trust like a family member, friend, teacher, coach, or school counsellor.

    The main thing is to think carefully about what may help them. Don't make a quick decision unless they are really in danger. The important part of helping someone else is for that person to know you are there to offer support and that they can get better with help.

    If you think that talking to the person you are worried about is the best thing, you don't have to do this on your own if you don't want to. Ask for someone you trust to go with you. Sometimes all you need to do is let a trusted grown up know and they will be the ones to take action. It's really helpful to share your views because you might notice something others have not.

    If you are a child, it is usually up to a grown-up to decide how that somebody will get help. However, children can ring Kids Help if they want to talk to someone that is completely separate from their family, friends or school. You can share this with them.

    Click here for other helpful community resources for children

    Community resources for children

    Here are some people that could help you:

    • Kids Help (free 24 hour advice line) T: 1800 55 1800 (free call)
    • Your mum or dad or step parents
    • Other family members you trust
    • Your teachers or counsellors at school you trust
    • A sports coach you trust
    • Your local doctor (a GP)
    • Cub, Scout or Guide leaders you trust
    • People in your religious community you trust.