If you're worried that you child is feeling low or struggling with depression, here's our advice on how you can help them, as well as the support we offer. 

Young teenage girl

 We all have times when we feel low, unhappy or fed up. However, if these feelings are making a young person’s life difficult, last for a long period of time, or come back over and over again, it may be a sign that they’re experiencing traits of depression. 

We know it can be worrying to learn that your child might be feeling this way. But remember that lots of young people experience depression and come through the other side.  

Here are just a few signs of depression, simple ways you can support young people and some of the services we offer to help young people stay happy and healthy. 

Some support you may be able to access yourself. This is called a self-referral. Other times, a GP, teacher, or social worker will need to request this support for you. 

Learn more about depression and low mood 

Signs and symptoms of depression

It can be difficult to know if your child is struggling with depression. So here a few of the common signs and symptoms: 

When a child is depressed, they might: 

  • feel sad or have a low mood for a long time 

  • lose interest in things that used to bring them joy 

  • feel tired or exhausted all the time 

  • feel irritable or grumpy 

  • feel empty or numb 

  • feel tearful, miserable, lonely, or hopeless 

  • feel more self-critical or less confident 

They may also: 

  • have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual 

  • struggle to concentrate 

  • withdraw from friends and family 

  • eat less than usual or overeat 

  • feel guilty or unworthy 

  • self-harm or have thoughts about self-harm.

Remember that you know your child better than anyone else. So, if they have been feeling low for a while and you’re worried, talk to them about how they’re feeling and remind them that you’re here to help. 

Why is my child depressed?

Some people find that they become depressed without any obvious reason. However, some things may make children more vulnerable to depression, such as: 

  • bullying 

  • family difficulties 

  • neglect 

  • losing someone close to you 

  • physical, emotional, or sexual abuse 

  • family history of depression or other mental health problems 

  • challenging events such as their parents separating or a bereavement.

How to help a child with depression

It's concerning for any parent or carer to learn that your child is feeling sad or low. But there are small steps you can take to help them deal with their emotions and get the mental health back on track. 

Start the conversation 

If you think your child may be depressed, the first step is to try to talk to them about what they’re going through. You could start the conversation by letting them know that you’ve noticed that they don’t seem very happy at the moment.  

Let them know your worries in a caring and compassionate way, and if they open up, try not to quickly ‘fix’ everything or downplay their sadness.  

Young boy who looks sad

Listen and try to understand how they’re feeling 

Listen and empathise with what they’re going through and remind them they can talk to you for as long or as often as they need to. Most importantly let them know that you love them and that these feelings won’t last forever. 

Some young people find it hard to open up about what they’re feeling because they don’t want to worry or upset those around them. So, if they don’t want to talk to you, you could encourage them to speak to someone else, whether that’s a friend, family member, a charity helpline, or a combination of these sources of support. 

Help them look after themselves 

By working together, you could help the young person in your life look after their mental wellbeing. For example, you could cook them healthy meals, make sure they get enough sleep or help them cut down on their screen time, if it’s making them feel low. 

You could also gently encourage them to do the things they enjoy. This might be things like exercising, expressing themselves creatively through colouring or painting, or going for a walk in the park.  

Take care of yourself 

Looking after someone else can take a toll, so make sure you’re looking after yourself. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or a carer, remember that your mental health is important too.

Treatment for depression in children 

If the situation isn’t getting any better and you’re worried, it might be worth getting some professional support.  

Remind your child that this isn’t something they’re expected to deal with by themselves, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. 

There are plenty of places you and your child can turn to, such as: 

  • Their GP – If your child is struggling with low mood and you’re not sure where to turn, their GP is a good place to start. Not only can they provide information and advice, but they can also discuss therapy and medication. They can also refer your child to a mental health specialist or to Child and Adolescent Mental health Services (CAMHs), if needed.  

  • School – It might also be worth letting your child’s school know what’s going on, however, discuss this with your child beforehand to make sure that they’re comfortable. Their school may be able to provide mental health support such as counselling and drop-in chat sessions. Plus, they can also refer your child to CAMHS or other mental health services, if needed.  

  • A counsellor or therapist – From talking therapies and counselling, to art and play therapy, there are many ways a counsellor or therapist can help your child. 

  • Charity helplines – If your child doesn't feel comfortable opening up to you, they could contact charity helplines, such as The Mix, ChildlineSamaritans or Shout

The treatment your child is offered will depend on what age they are and how serious their symptoms are. It may include: 

Young girl who looks sad


A counsellor or therapist will help your child make sense of how they’re feeling, untangle difficult thoughts, and teach them healthier ways to cope.  

Sometimes this might involve talking through their thoughts and feelings with a trained professional. This is called talking therapy. 

Other times, especially when working with younger children, therapists may help children express their emotions through art or play. This is helpful if they’re struggling to put their feelings into words.  


In some cases, a doctor may be able to offer your child medication if they are severely struggling to cope with their depression and the strategies that they are actively putting in place from their talking therapies don’t seem to be helping. However, there are a number of talking therapies that are recommended first.

Mental health support we offer 

We know that if a child is struggling with depression, they may feel alone or like no one understands what they're going through. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  

Whatever your family are going through, we’re here to help. 

We have a wide range of services across the UK to help children, young people and families look after their minds - from talking therapies and art therapy to programmes in school that help children better understand their thoughts and feelings.  

You can use the search box below to find support in your area.  

You may be able to ask to access some support yourself. This is called self-referral. For some types of support, a GP, teacher, or social worker will need to request this support for you. 

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