Family Therapy UK

Information For Young People – Where to get Help When You have Concerns about Your Family


Sometimes it’s hard to know where to go for help. Here's some places you can get help from if you are concerned about your family. It’s hard to cover everything, so email me if you need any more help. You can print this leaflet out and give it to your friends or carers (parents or adults looking after you) if you think it will be helpful.

Getting help from parents or carers and other trusted family members

In most cases, talking to parents/carers about your family concerns is a good place to start.

If you are having problems with one parent/carer and you have another parent/carer, ask them to help you deal with this.

If you are having problems with your parents/parent/carer and you don’t feel able to talk to them, it can sometimes help to talk to a close relative such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle.

What if I can’t talk to my parents and I don’t have any one else in the family to talk to? Where can I go for help?

Some problems are hard to discuss with parents. These might include:

  • Being hit by parents.
  • Being touched in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable by parents or a brother or sister.
  • Not being looked after at home.
  • Having parents who are ill.
  • Having parents who drink too much alcohol or have other addictions.
  • Having parents who argue all the time.
  • Because you are worried about your parent’s relationship.
  • If one of your parents is being hurt by the other.
  • If something is happening to your brother or sister you do not like.
  • If one of your parents is acting in an odd way maybe because they are depressed or mentally ill.
  • You are worried about something to do with you but don’t want to tell them because they already have enough worries of their own.
  • You have a worry or concern and can’t discuss it with your parents/carer because you think they might react badly if you tell them.

There are lots of other things you might find hard to talk about; these are just some examples I have heard from young people.

Sometimes it helps to talk to your friends, but they cannot always help with family problems.

If you are in junior school (under 11 years old) you can talk to a teacher you like and tell them you need some help. Teachers can be very helpful. Sometimes they can talk with your parents for you. If they cannot help you with a problem they know other people who can. You might not know this, but all professional people who work with children have to help them if they have a worrying problem. All schools in Britain have school nurses and doctors who can help you and your family with worries and concerns. Some schools have special teachers who can help you with worries and concerns called ‘special needs teachers’ or SENCO’s. If you don’t know who yours is, you can ask your teacher.

If you are in high school you can also ask for help from any teacher. High schools have special needs teachers (SENCO’s) and often have access to trained counsellors. If your worries are about your health or sexuality you can ask to see the school nurse. If you are having mental health difficulties such as depression, self-harming, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, substance misuse, an eating disorder or suicidal thoughts you can go to your GP for help. They often have specialist counsellors they can refer you to in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinics (CAMHS). Your school nurse or a teacher can refer you to CAMHS as well. CAMHS workers offer individual help for yourself and often work with you and your family together. Don't be scared by the words 'mental health' it's just medical words for how you are feeling and getting on in your life.

If you are being mistreated at home you can talk to a teacher, your GP, the police or social services. Your teacher and GP and any other professional person has to make sure you are safe. They have to contact social services if they feel you are at risk of harm or unsafe at home. Sometimes schools hold special meetings called a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) or TAF (Team Around the Family). These meetings involve your parents and you and any other professional people involved with your family. This is to make sure you and your family receive all the help that’s available.

Try not to be scared when people mention involving social services. They are there to help young people, their brother’s and sisters and parents/carers cope better. When social services become involved they offer support and services to children and families to help make things better. Their job is to help you and your family stay together rather than splitting the family up and taking children into care. Sometimes, when things are really serious they will offer some temporary ‘respite care’ for children away from their parents/carers. This is to allow time for your parents/carers and social services to work things out. This ‘respite care' is usually with a close relative or with a foster family. If the situation is risky or dangerous, children may be moved to a safe place for a longer time or permanently. When this happens, social services can allow visiting by parents and carers when possible.

I’m worried about my parent’s relationship. Is there anything I can do to help?

This is a tricky question to answer because it depends on how difficult things have become at home. You might prefer to discuss the situation with another adult or professional before talking to your parents. You might ask these other adults or professionals to bring up your concerns with your parents for you.

If you feel confident talking to your parents about how you are feeling, this can often be very useful and the beginning of positive change. You could give your parents the information below if you feel it would be useful to them. There are some useful handouts for parents on this site. They could have a look at those too. Here are some places your parents can go for help. They could try:

RELATE offer help for couples who are having relationship difficulties and for family problems. Your parents/carers can go to other paid for counsellors such as family therapists who specialise in relationship and family issues. You can find a list of them here:

If your parents/carers are having mental health problems such as depression or are drinking too much or hurting themselves, they can go to their doctor to get some specialist help. These websites could help them too:

If your parents cannot cope because they are ill or depressed or cannot handle their children they can get help from social services. They can get this help 24 hours a day by ringing the operator and asking for emergency social services in your area.

If one of your parents is being hurt by their partner or by another member of the family, they can get help by contacting the police, social services or by discussing it with their GP. You can do this too or get another adult to do it for you. This site might be helpful if you or a parent are being physically abused:

Finding help on the Internet for Yourself

There are some good sites on the Internet where you can get help and advice. My advice would be to get help from a person you know and trust such as a your parent/carer, your teacher, a grandparent or professional person rather than relying on Internet sites alone. Be very careful what you write to people online especially if you don’t know them really well. Bear in mind that not all friends are good at keeping secrets and that what you write on social networking sites, in emails and texts can be passed around.

Here is a website that you can contact if you are worried and cannot talk to anyone in person: is an online counselling service with qualified staff. They are only available in these areas:

Here's another site for young people called Youth Access which you can use to search for help:

If you are being hurt at home, or someone else is being hurt, try to talk to a responsible adult such as a teacher to get some immediate advice and help. You could use this site to get some help too:

Here's a site to give you some ideas about coping if you feel your parents are horrible:

I hope this has given you some ideas about how to get help with your family worries

Dennis Neill

Family Psychotherapist

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