Mental Health


Foetal alcohol syndrome disorders

Tips to try

  • When asking your child to undertake a task, keep the instructions short.
  • Give them enough time to process the instruction.
  • If, you need to repeat the instruction, use the exact same wording and repeat the instruction.
  • Give praise and encouragement as much as you can. Reinforce the positive behaviour.
  • Use visual information to support the verbal instructions you have given.
  • Have a consistent routine as much as possible,
  • Help keep their area tidy and structured, this will help them find what they need and reduce any chances of conflict.
  • Keep in contact with the child's teacher so positive comments may be passed back and forth.
  • Use social stories and emotional language to help the child understand social situations.

FASD is the term used to cover a range of conditions caused by a child's exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. The definitions of the condition depend on the level of the indicators seen in the child.

If a child shows a defect in their expected growth, underdeveloped facial features, impairment to brain normal activity and there has been a recognised exposure to alcohol, they would meet the conditions for Foetal alcohol syndrome ( FAS)

The level of effect on the child is believed to depend on the amount of alcohol and the time consumed during pregnancy.

  • Every child will be different but most commonly, children with FASD may be:
  • easily influenced by others
  • show difficulties in separating fantasy from reality.
  • show difficulties in understanding the consequences of their actions
  • Have delayed growth physically, show immaturity for their age and have delayed brain development.
  • Show hyperactivity and lack of control of their impulses.
  • Show difficulties socially, both building positive relationships and struggling to understand social expectations.
  • May suffer from health problems, be constantly ill and have difficulties regarding their diet.


Exercise groups for SEND children and teens (the majority of which are FREE!)


Autism is a disorder which comes from irregularities in the brains development. The term covers a wide range of conditions, from classic autism, which can pose difficulties in learning and communication to high functioning, where children are very able intellectually but may have difficulties due to autistic traits.

Tips to try

  • Assist children with autism to build relationships. Ensure they have opportunities to mix socially in a supported environment.
  • Have a set routine for the child, introducing any changes slowly.
  • Use visual timetables of the day's events, use pictures and symbols as well as explaining information verbally to assist in understanding.
  • Break down instructions into small tasks to assist the child in being independent.
  • Try to reduce the level of stimuli's around the child ( bright colours, noise, etc) This can be achieved by having pastel colours, soundproofing to areas.
  • Use social story's to develop the child's understanding of the behaviour expected when interacting with others.

Those with autism pose difficulties in the following:

Social interactions: Many children with autism show avoidance of social interactions or can fail to show empathy, leading to difficulties in understanding social situations.

Communication: Many children with autism have difficulties communicating, due to a lack of understanding of facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Some may be able to talk well in conversations but may find difficulties in listening to others and exchanging information. This may lead to poor behaviour if the child is finding it difficult to be understood.

Flexibility of thought: Many children with autism struggle with creativity and problem-solving. This can lead to difficulties in dealing with changes in routine and everyday life.

Sensory: Many children with autism may struggle with dealing with stimulus( light, noise, etc) This may be reacting negatively to stimulus, by becoming upset, covering their ears and closing their eyes, possibly react physically if highly distressed. In some cases, they may experience the opposite, seeking out stimulus due to a lack of sensitivity. This may result in issues around self-harm or risk-taking. Children with autism may experience both of these at any given time.

Every child with autism is different. They may experience different levels of difficulties in all of the above areas.


Tips to try

  • Set boundaries with your child, ensure they are consistent across all of your children and don’t give up on them.
  • Make sure you have at least 2-3 positive exchanges with your child each day.
  • Give your child/children responsibilities around the home and provide opportunities for them to succeed.
  • Give your child/children extra time to understand instructions. If you need to repeat them, use the same wording.
  • Reduce distractions around your child/children to allow them to focus.
  • If you know you are going to be in a situation where negative behaviours may occur, make sure you have activities prepared for your child/children to lower anxiety and keep them focussed.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder which affects the way the brain develops, causing difficulties in paying attention, excessive activity and difficulty controlling behaviour.

The three core features of ADHD are:


The child may be easily distracted, appear to not pay attention, be disorganised and consistently make mistakes unknowingly.


The child may appear to talk excessively, be very active or unable to remain still and fidget or fiddle with objects.


The child may act impulsively, showing difficulties in taking turns talking and interrupt others frequently. They may also constantly break the rule sets and take risks without the thought of the consequences.

A child with ADHD commonly suffer from other conditions, such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, anxiety, OCD, oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder and difficulties with speech and language.

You may feel that your child is uncontrollable or that they make poor choices for themselves, where other children are aware of boundaries and have some self-control.

ADHD is not unmanageable, it can be treated via many routes, the most important being your GP.

Medication is not the only route for treatment. Many treatment options can be carried out by the parent.


Attachment is a commonly talked about factor to children's behaviour. This is expected to happen during the loss of a friend or loved one, from which a child in a nurturing environment should recover well from. Positive attachment is described below.

Organised secure attachment: This is a positive form of attachment, with the parent being sensitive to the child's needs and empathetic. This provides a safe place for the child, whilst also giving the child the opportunities to explore and develop freely. The child feels they can return to the security of the parent as a protective factor if needed.

Tips to try

  • Have a clear routine for the day, producing a safe environment and reducing the chances of conflict.
  • Set firm boundaries and ensure these are met, although do not discipline forcefully. If a challenge arises, remain calm and show you understand the feelings of the child. Then explain the boundaries again and continue.
  • Ensure positive interactions take place throughout the day. This will help to build the child's self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Build on your relationship by undertaking tasks together. Set out the task clearly and take turns, supporting each other throughout. Again, reinforce the expectations calmly.
  • Get creative and use art and crafts as “play“ time with your child. Look at groups in your community for low-cost ideas of events you can do as a family.

However, more extreme forms of attachment disorder exist. Below are the most common.

Organised Insecure attachment: This may appear in two forms.

  • Ambivalent resistance attachment: Caused by an inconsistent parenting style, the child appears unsure of the care they are going to receive. This causes the child to become over-emotional, clingy and distressed at small issues. This, in turn, can lead to the child becoming difficult to calm and could result in social difficulties due to altered expectations of others.
  • Insecure avoidance attachment: Caused by the parent/ carer being unable to support the emotional needs of the child, leading to the child minimising their behaviour in order to maintain the relationship. This results in the child showing submissive behaviours, becoming independent and failing to show when there are emotionally upset.

Disorganised attachments: This results from an aggressive parenting style, causing fear in the child, leading to them experiencing stress when seeking support. This, in turn, leads to an inability to deal with social situations, showing aggression or conflict during minor issues and a reliance on others to meet their emotional needs.

On occasions, when the child has suffered stress or trauma from a young age, they may suffer from Reactive attachment disorder (RAD). One form of this, the inhibited form may cause the child to fail to seek out or expect help when needed, become socially withdrawn with limited positive expressions of emotions and show at random irritably for no reason.

The inhibited form, may cause the child to seek out and except help from strangers, putting them in high risk of harm.

If a child has been diagnosed with an attachment disorder, professional counselling, education and medication may be needed.


What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal, human feeling of fear or panic. When we face stressful situations, it can set off our brain’s in-built alarm bell system, which tells us something isn’t right and that we need to deal with it. Our brain wants the difficult situation to go away, so it makes us feel more alert, stops us thinking about other things, and even pumps more blood to our legs to help us run away.

Most of us worry sometimes – about things like friendships or money – and feel anxious when we’re under stress, like at exam time. But afterwards we usually calm down and feel better.

But when you’re not in a stressful situation, and you still feel worried or panicky, that’s when anxiety can become a problem.

The symptoms of anxiety

You might start out just feeling generally anxious, but if your symptoms get worse or last longer than they should, it could be time to get some support. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, on edge, or panicky all the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed or full of dread
  • Feeling out of control
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Low appetite
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Feeling tired and grumpy
  • Heart beating really fast or thinking you’re having a heart attack
  • Having a dry mouth
  • Trembling
  • Feeling faint
  • Stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea/needing to pee more than usual
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Wobbly legs
  • Getting very hot

If you experience any of these symptoms above, it doesn’t mean you definitely have an anxiety problem. But if any of them are affecting your everyday life, it’s a good idea to tell someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

Try these when you are feeling anxious or stressed:

  • Take a time-out.Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to helpyou feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which is not possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humour. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved.Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety.Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you are feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone.Tell friends and family you are feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

Parental support is extremely important for students, especially those who may be dealing with an anxiety disorder, depression, or other mental health condition.

Below are tips for helping your young person:

  • Be an active listener. Lend an open ear when your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Listen to what he or she says, as well as to what isn’t said. (Is there any mention of friends or social activities?). Respect his or her feelings even if you don't understand exactly them. This will encourage your child to start talking, which can serve as a source of comfort when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Educate yourself.Knowing the difference between everyday stress and anxiety disorder can help you learn what to listen and look for. 
  • Encourage participation in extracurricular activities.These can help to relieve stress, help your child make new friends, and build self-esteem.
  • Explore opportunities for seeking help.Investigate mental health and other support options at school and in the local community.
  • Share what you find with your child.Once you've accumulated information about getting help, pass it along. Having the information available will give your child the option to get help when he or she needs it or feels ready.
  • Be patient if your child doesn’t seek help right away.It may take a while for your child to seek professional help. It’s important especially for young adults to feel that getting treatment is their own decision.

Where to get help?

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

Provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis

If you need urgent help text YM to 85258

All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone,3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

No Panic

No Panic are the people to call if you are suffering from panic attacks, OCD, phobias, and other related anxiety disorders. 

Helpline: 0844 967 4848 (Daily 10:00 – 22:00 Charges apply)

Youth Helpline for 13 - 20yrolds: 0330 606 1174 (Mon - Fri 15:00 –18:00  Charges apply)

Having a panic attack? Crisis number with recording of a breathing technique:01952  680835(24hr) 


If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email or chat online about any problem big or small

Freephone24h helpline: 0800 1111

Sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address

Chat 1:1 with an online advisor

The Mix

Ifyou'reunder 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need. 

Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)

PTSD (Post Trauma Stress Disorder)

What is PTSD? PTSD stands for Post (After) Trauma (Upset) Stress (Worry) Disorder (Condition). AFTER – UPSET – WORRY –CONDITION!!!… PTSD is usually associated with soldiers coming back from war and the things that they have seen, however it is NOT just soldiers in war that can suffer from PTSD; AFTER – UPSET - WORRY – CONDITION. Any person can suffer from this, it doesn’t have to be war I assure you.

Any person that sees, witnesses, experiences a terrible traumatic event could then potentially be subjected to PTSD, where the brain struggles to cope with the experience that it has gone through. This could be a family crisis, a deceased loved one, a car crash…there are too many potential tragedies to mention that could trigger PTSD in a person.

The NHS guidance on spotting PTSD is as follows;

  • flashbacks
  • nightmares
  • repetitive and distressing images or sensations
  • physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling

… However, as the NHS website states there are several more symptoms that may appear a lot less minor at times but are still just as important to recognise because they may be the earlier warning signs that a person is suffering from a mental health issue and needs help and intervention.

  • Being withdrawn
    • It can be easier to talk to no-one than have to explain why the person is feeling the way they are.
  • Being angry with anything and everything
    • Can be a guilt reaction, thinking to themselves how they could have changed the situation which in reality 99.9% they actually couldn’t, but the guilt is still there for the person suffering.
  • Reacting incidences through play
    • Especially as a child, children may replay the incident through their mind in play and this may seem abnormal for others but for the individual it is what they have learnt and seen.
  • Being intolerant and impatient or other issues
    • This can be like a loss of empathy, seeing other peoples problems as irrelevant and almost worthy of thought compared to the travesty that the person has faced.
  • Escapism(Emotional numbing)– Alcohol, drugs
    • Emotional numbing is way from the person suffering to shut out the thoughts of the trauma event and try not to think about it.

How to cope

  • Speak with your GP
    • There are some incredible services out there that can help but they will not come to you, you have to go to them
  • Provide social support;
    • Encourage but don’t nag – exercise helps ... LOADS, but pick your time and your tone. Don’t be offended if you get shouted down. IT'S NOT YOU it’s just the circumstances. They don’t mean it and you’re doing the right thing it just takes time, the right tone, persistence and persuasion ….Don’t get angry and give up, just relax, count to 10, breathe deeply, and try again later which brings me onto the next point
  • Make time for yourself
    • You must look after yourself when dealing with someone with PTSD. They would want you too they just can’t express it right now because their head is consumed at the moment. You can only be strong for them if your strong yourself, … there is NOTHING wrong with having a time out to collect your thoughts and recuperate
  • Watch for signs of escalation
    • Keep safe – Sometimes is better to walk away from a moment to let things calm down …sometimes
    • Keep calm and don’t take things personally (as hard as it can be sometimes) – quite often people with PTSD will lash out in frustration especially at the ones they love the most because quite often to them you are an easy target and they think you’ll always be there from the no matter what. IT'S NOT personal


At least one in ten people are classed as being dyslexic, but it's estimated less than half of dyslexics are being identified. Some class dyslexia as a learning disability but others class it as a superpower.

Dyslexics have a different way of processing information which is caused by physical differences or ‘wiring’ of the brain. A child with dyslexia may have different thought process which can cause them to struggle with aspects of reading, spelling, writing, concentration and memory skills. However, this alternative way of processing information gives the child skills and abilities in other areas, such as imaginative and critical thinking along with heightened creativity and communication skills.

Each person with dyslexia will present different patterns of strengths and challenges and dyslexia varies in severity. However, early identification of both difficulties and strengths is key, allowing a focus on the child’s skill set without drawing focus on their challenges. Furthermore, there are many different ways you can easily help your child with their challenges through dyslexia.


  • Use highly structured ‘little and often’ interventions to support reading and writing skills.
  • Use visual information to help explain information and concepts
  • Allow additional time for information to sink in, remember the pathways in the brain are different than yours.
  • Ensure you reinforce everything multiple times; this will help the information move into long-term memory.
  • Give your child a framework to assist organising themselves using a visual timetable or plan of activities.
  • Praise effort, not just success. If your child is working to break down their boundaries, this needs to be recognised.
  • Use various ways of recording success with your child. Use photos and videos to help them recognise their skills.
  • A great deal of dyslexics suffers from visual stress. This can be helped by finding larger print, using coloured, pastel background, using the correct lighting, using overlays, possible ruled.

Speaking and listening

  • Address the child by name to cue attention.
  • Limit instructions to 1 or 2items to assist with memory(chunking).
  • Speak in short sentences, if repeated use the same wording.
  • Ask the child to repeat the sentences back, checking they have understood.
  • Allow the child to visualise what is being asked.
  • Praise the recognition of instructions.
  • Use simple verbal or visual prompts.
  • State the tasks in the order you want them completed.
  • Slow down and allow for extra wait time.
  • Avoid idioms, sarcasm and double meanings.
  • Keep it simple, including grammar.
  • Use commenting rather than questions.

Helping with reading

  • Use starting points, such as picture books, photographs and diagrams or books/ reading material with a high-interest level. Comics and graphic novels are an ideal way to encourage this, providing they are age-appropriate
  • Check the reading level of the material your child is reading, if the reading age is too high, it may demotivate them and destroy their confidence. Checkers are available for this through word processing software.
  • Use paired readingi.e.short sessions at a slow speed, to help increase your child confidence.
  • Use games to support the learning of words, snap, connect 4, word shape.
  • When helping your child read, never criticise mistakes or errors. Use the three P's (pause, prompt, praise) to assist your child and encourage their progress.
  • Ensure the font used is appropriate for the reader. Fonts such as Comic sans century Gothicwork very well.

Help with writing

  • Help your child understand the importance of what they are writing. Explain why they need it in life.
  • Picture dictionaries and advice to assist them when they are struggling.
  • Keep repeating keywords or action words, helping your child to build these into their vocabulary.
  • When helping with planning written task, allow time for initial drafts, mind mapping, writing frames. If you need advice on these, please contact Trinity.
  • Build a list of which can be used in writing“dead words”.i.e.nice
  • Use different coloured paper, which is wide lined, this will help with the visual stress and help keep your child from losing their train of thought.
  • Help with organisation
  • Use colour or shape coded timetable and organisation skills. This will help your child understand both when these are needed and why.
  • Use concept maps, flowcharts and timelines to give your child the big picture around what is going on.
  • Use analogue clocks, many dyslexics find these easier to follow once they are explained.
  • Ensure instructions are short and clear if they need to be repeated, use the same wording.
  • Work backwards from a deadline. This considers the different pathways in the child's brain and can help the processing of information.

Useful websites


What is it?
Mindfulness is a sense of being in the present moment and being aware of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environments. When an individual engages in mindfulness, their thoughts tune into what they are currently sensing instead of thinking about the past or imagining the future. 

How does it work?
Mindfulness affects how an individual feels about themselves and how they act. It returns the body back to basic levels when experiencing a stressful situation. The body and mind are given time to induce a relaxation response which stores the body to base levels. 

How does mindfulness help us?
It helps us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, resulting in fewer outbursts and a decrease in related stresses. It has also been proven to decrease everyday stresses, anxiety, and decrease by focusing our attention on an activity, as well as observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. 
By relieving some of the stress, has a positive impact on your overall health too. It has been found that as a result, blood pressure becomes lower, chronic pain can reduce and there can be an improvement in sleep, along with a range of other medical problems. 

What are the basics behind mindfulness practice?
Set some time aside where you can take yourself away from any distractions and find a quiet space. The aim is to concentrate on the present moment and achieveastate of calmness. Allow your thoughts to wander but don't get stuck on them, remember to focus on the present moment. 

Panic Attacks

Having panic attacks is a form of anxiety, where you may experience sudden attacks of panic or dread. This is very different from the regular feelings of anxiety and panic, which you may experience when facing day to day challenges in your life. This is your body’s natural response system and is there to keep you alert and safe. A panic attack is when your body experiences an overload of powerful emotions and feelings, which can develop very quickly and be very frightening. These panic attacks normally may last for between 5 and 20 minutes, although in extreme cases may go on for up to an hour. Although very frightening, panic attacks themselves are not dangerous, although they may cause injuries and accidents which result in more serious harm.

You will not be admitted to hospital due to a panic attack as they are classed as being non-dangerous, however as most of their symptoms are common in other conditions, such as heart attacks and angina, so they should always be taken seriously and dealt with.

A Panic attack can present itself in the following way:

  • The body will react with a racing heartbeat, nausea, a dry mouth, and discomfort in the stomach
  • The person may become faint or dizzy and start to feel disconcerted to their body.
  • They may feel pains in the chest and shortness of breath as if they were experiencing a heart attack
  • Their body may start to controllable trembling and sharking
  • They may become either very hot or very cold, resulting in sweating, numbness or tingling
  • They may experience a feeling of dismay or a fear of dying

Here are a few tips around ways you can help:

  • Don’t try and make them resist or fight the attack, for the time being. Understand the body is in control may need support to get it back into a state of balance.
  • Get them to stay where they are. Moving anywhere when in a state of crisis may result in physical injury which could make the attack worse.
  • Help them “ground” themselves by asking them to think about the here and now,
  • Help them to take control of their breathing. There are Phone apps for this or alternatively, use the hand breathing method. (see Youtube)
  • Remind the person these feelings will pass. If they have had these feelings before use these experiences to show how temporary this attack is.
  • Continue to ground them by getting them to focus on positive, peaceful and relaxing images. For example, ask them to focus on five things they can see, four they can touch, etc

Get Help

If their attacks persist, you may be developing a panic disorder.

Seek help from your GP to gain a better understanding.

Supporting websites: