The school summer holidays are drawing to a close and parents are beginning to prepare their children to go back to school.
Understandably, many children may not looking forward to hitting their studies again, but could there be something bigger that’s worrying them?
Some studies show that almost one in four young people will experience depression before they are 19 years old.
Experts say it’s important to get help early if you think your child may be depressed. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to disrupt your child’s life and turn into a long-term problem.
Dr Nichola Bishop is a local GP and the lead for women and children at NHS South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
She said: “There is a difference between feeling a bit low from time to time and a serious emotional health problem.
“If your child is feeling unhappy and low for a prolonged period of time, it’s time to seek more professional help.
“Some signs of depression in children can include having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual, eating less than usual or overeating, or being unable to relax, concentrate or make decisions.
“Headaches and stomach aches may be physical symptoms of anxiety.”
A teacher may be able to deal with the problem or may involve a school counsellor or welfare worker depending on the situation.
Alternatively, you can book an appointment to see your GP who may suggest a referral to a mental health service specialising in supporting young people.
Through the ‘Emotionally Healthy Schools Project’, teachers at schools across South Cheshire have received training on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their students.
YoungMinds (www.youngminds.org.uk) offers free, confidential online and telephone support to anyone worried about the emotional and mental wellbeing of anyone aged under 25.
The Parents Helpline (freephone 0808 802 5544) is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm.
Childline (www.childline.org.uk) offers free confidential counselling for children (freephone 0800 1111) and is available 24 hours a day.
Dr Bishop added: “It’s important to talk to your child if you think they’re depressed. Try to find out what’s troubling them and how they are feeling.
“If they don’t want to talk, just letting them know that you care and that you’re there if they need you can make a big difference.
“If they say they feel empty or numb, guilty or worthless, or have thoughts about suicide or self-harming, then encourage them to speak to a professional immediately.”
NHS Choices also has some tips on talking to: