5 QUESTIONS YOUNGMINDS VOLUNTEERS ALWAYS ASK
“When parents call they’re often tearful, angry or at a loss,” says helpline manager Emma Saddleton. “So we ‘peel back’ the problem using a five-phase technique.”
1 Identify the child’s behaviour, symptoms and areas of concern: what is the child doing? “Many parents want validation and to know that they’re not overreacting,” says Saddleton.
2 Establish timelines: “What’s happening, when did it start, how long has it been going on for, when did it escalate? It’s also good to have timelines when speaking to health professionals.”
3 Explore triggers and contributing factors: “Some parents know why their child is behaving a certain way,” says Saddleton. “Others will be at a total loss, and we understand that. We may ask whether there have been any changes at school, any bullying, a bereavement or academic pressure on the child.”
4 Check service involvement: Who shares your concerns? Is there a diagnosis for your child? Or a treatment plan? Are teachers or GPS aware of the problem?
5 Clarify what the caller wants: “We’re not just a listening service,” says Saddleton. “We will give parents bucketloads of empathy and validation, but we want them to go away with a plan to help them access the services they need.”
Youngminds’ Parents Helpline is free and confidential. Call 0808 802 5544 or visit youngminds.org.uk