Kids (aged 5 to 11 years)

Mental health and wellbeing in children

When a child’s mental health and wellbeing are on track, they able to manage the ups and downs of their everyday lives. They will still experience emotional challenges and feelings of sadness, worry and fear as these emotions are a normal part of growing up. An emotionally healthy child will be able to bounce back from these challenges, feel good about themselves, get along with others and experience joy.

General signs that children are developing well are when they enjoy being with family members, friends and other children, and like playing.

It is possible for children to have problems with their mental health and wellbeing at different times in their lives. When a child’s mental health is off track, it can often be seen by changes in behaviour. Things like withdrawal, tearfulness, sleep problems, irritability, disobedience, excessive worry, and difficulties with friends, family or at school, might indicate that a child is struggling with their mental health.

Support from parents, carers, families and other caring adults like teachers and health care workers, are essential to supporting a child’s mental health and wellbeing. Showing interest in your child, listening to them, talking to them, and trying to notice any changes in behaviour will all help. Physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand, therefore good sleep, nutritious food and physical activity play a vital role in keeping a child’s mental health and wellbeing on track.

Sometimes children and their families or carers need extra help to get back on track. Getting help early can help to sort things out quickly. Talking to a trusted health professional can help you decide the best course of action.

Seeking help

In an emergency

If someone’s life is in danger or there is an emergency, phone 000 or attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

The CYMHS Acute Response Team Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

t: 07 3068 2555

Help for children

If something in your life doesn’t seem right, talk to someone you trust about your worries. Reaching out to others can assist you to get the help you need.

Some people that might help you include:

  • Family members like parents or foster carers, grandparents, aunties and uncles
  • Your school teacher, deputy principal, school counsellor or chaplain
  • A friend or friend’s parents
  • A sports coach or someone at church
  • Another adult you trust

Help for parents and carers

If you are worried about your child, seek advice from a professional who works with children.

Professionals that can help include:

  • Your child’s teacher or school counsellor
  • Your doctor
  • Parentline (1300 30 1300)

Talk to your GP (general practitioner) and ask how the Child and Youth Mental Health Service can help you. A list of our services can be found on the our teams page.

CYMHS clinics

For more information about your local Child and Youth Mental Health Service, including catchment suburbs, location details and referral guidelines, visit the our teams page.

What happens at CYMHS clinics?

When a child and their family or carers first come along to CYMHS, they will see one of our friendly staff members. This staff member—who might be called your Choice clinician—will meet you and work with you to understand your concerns. Together, we will come to a shared understanding of what has been happening, and develop a plan to help manage these difficulties. At CYMHS, we call this appointment your Choice appointment. Sometimes, this initial Choice appointment is enough to get things back on track. Other times, CYMHS might not seem quite right for you and we will help you to link in with the best service to meet your needs. For some children, continuing to access services within CYMHS will be the right choice. We will partner with you to support you on your road to recovery.

Who will we see?

Our multidisciplinary team may include allied health professionals (like psychologists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and social workers), as well as nursing, medical and administrative staff, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers. You may see one or more members of the CYMHS team, depending on your needs. Each team has a team leader and psychiatrist who will oversee your care.
CYMHS clinicians specialise in infant, child, adolescent and family mental health and development. We will involve you in decision making, keep you informed, ask for your input, offer you choices and respect your privacy and need for confidentiality. By working together, we will support you to get back on track.

Treatment planning

At CYMHS we focus on recovery oriented care. This means we recognise and help build on your strengths for better health and wellbeing.

Your care plan may include:

  • Mental health and other types of assessments
  • Individual work (like counselling)
  • Family work
  • Group work
  • Working with school counsellors, your GP or another service (with your permission)
  • Medication
  • Referrals to other specialist teams within CYMHS

If you speak a language other than English, CYMHS will arrange a free interpreter with your permission.

Other community resources

In an emergency

If someone’s life is in danger or there is an emergency, phone 000 or attend your nearest hospital emergency department.

24-hour Helpline Services

CYMHS Acute Response Team t: 3068 2555
Lifeline t: 131 114 | crisis support and suicide prevention
Health Hotline t: 13 HEALTH (13 432 584)
Kids Helpline t: 1800 55 1800 | telephone counselling service for people aged 5-25
Youthbeyondblue & beyondblue t: 1300 224 636
Alcohol and Drug Information Service t: 1800 177 833
Poisons Information Centre t: 131 126

Other Helpline Services

Parentline t: 1300 30 1300 | 7 days a week from 8am to 10pm
Eheadspace t: 1800 650 890 | 7 days a week from 9am to 1am AEDST
NPS Medicine t: 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) | Mon to Fri 9am-5pm

Useful websites

Kids Helpline w:
Parentline w:
ReachOut w:
ReachOut Parents w:
Youthbeyondblue w:
Beyondblue w:
Eheadspace w:
Raising Children w:
Choice and Medication w:
NPS MedicineWise w: