Children and Young People’s Mental Health

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What is Mental Health?

We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Sometimes we feel well, and sometimes we don’t.

Mental health is complicated because it’s about how we think, feel and act, and this is always changing.

When our mental health is good, we enjoy being around other people and we feel able to take on challenges and new experiences. But when our mental health is not so good, we can find it much harder to cope.

Remember, if you or your child is struggling with how you think, feel or behave, you are not alone and things can get better. You deserve all the help and support you need to feel confident and comfortable being yourself so that you can enjoy life.

What causes mental health problems?

There are lots of reasons why we might start struggling with our mental health. These can include:

  • difficult things going on in your life
  • life experiences, such as trauma, violence or abuse
  • physical health problems
  • pressure at school, work, or about money
  • difficult relationships with partners, family or friends
  • family history of mental health problems

Often it isn’t just one of these things and sometimes there is no obvious cause. Whatever the reasons you might be struggling it’s important to remember that it isn’t your fault and that things can get better.

Life affects us all differently. No one is the same. That’s why the right mental health support will look different to different people. What works for one person might be not work the same for you, and that’s ok.

How do I know when to get help with my child’s mental health?

Most of us will struggle with our mental health at some point in our lives, just like we all get sick once in a while. If you notice a negative change in how you’re feeling, or you find yourself doing things that worry you, speak to someone you trust. Trust your instincts – you know if something is up. Don’t wait for things to get really bad before reaching out. The earlier you get help, the more likely it is that you can stop your problem getting worse.

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • feeling hopeless – struggling to see the positives in life, or wishing you didn’t exist
  • getting into lots of arguments or fights
  • feeling sad all the time
  • feeling angry all the time
  • feeling anxious all the time
  • numbness – not feeling any emotions at all
  • extreme highs and lows, or mood swings
  • feeling worthless
  • changes to your eating patterns – starving   yourself, over-eating, making yourself sick
  • hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
  • hurting yourself on purpose
  • keeping away from friends and family
  • relying heavily on alcohol, drugs or sex
  • obsessive behaviour or thoughts – feeling there   is something you have to do/think about all the   time or something bad will happen
  • experiencing nightmares, flashbacks or upsetting thoughts
  • obsessing about how you look
  • Constant unwanted thoughts

If you recognise any of these signs, or anything else that seems out of the ordinary, or not ‘normal’ for you, then it is important to reach out for help. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have a mental health problem, but it’s likely that some support will help you on your journey to feeling your best.

Local Transformation Plan

We believe that all children and young people should have access to the right kind of services and support to help them develop as people and build positive relationships.

In Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes we’ve worked with children, young people and other organisations to develop a transformational plan for children’s and young people’s mental health services to improve the support that’s currently available.

The Dynamic Support Register and Care Education Treatment Review for families

BLMK Children and Young People’s Mental Health Local Transformation Plan 2021-22

Local Transformation Plan update children and young people October 2022

Bedford Borough

Local Offer Bedford Borough – Mental health & wellbeing

Central Bedfordshire

Local Offer Central Bedfordshire – Mental health & Wellbeing

Milton Keynes

Your mental health and wellbeing | Milton Keynes City Council (


Luton Emotional Wellbeing Information Resource | Luton Directory


How to get help in a mental health crisis (Milton Keynes)

Support available

  • Mental Health Crisis Support

    Mental health crisis support is available 24/7 across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes.

    We have fully trained professionals ready to support young people experiencing a mental health crisis. This is available 24 hours a day all year round by calling the following numbers. Anyone can use and access the service.  All numbers are free to call, you won’t be charged:

    How does the service help?

    The service helps by providing immediate access to advice and guidance to those requiring mental health support.  We can advise and direct you to the most appropriate services.

    When should people contact the service?

    The service is available 24/7. If you feel as though you’re in a mental health crisis or believe a friend or family member is then make that call.

    How does the service help people who don’t speak English?

    Don’t worry if English is not your first language. As well as working within a diverse multilingual team we also have access to an interpreting service.

    What should people contacting for mental health crisis support expect?

    You should firstly expect a friendly voice on the end of the line, someone who will listen to your concerns and will be able to work with you to get the most appropriate outcome. The call will be a two-way process so do expect some questions. The Mental Health Professional (MHP) will carry out an assessment and together you will devise a plan.

    A&E Departments
    Additionally, we have CAMHS professional available in A&E hospital departments across BLMK every day from 9am – 9pm, seven days a week. Outside of these hours, you can speak to a trained mental health professional. Addresses are below.

    Bedford Hospital A&E, South Wing, 1 Kempston Road, Bedford, MK42 9DJ

    Luton & Dunstable Hospital A&E, Lewsey Road, Luton, LU4 0DZ

    Milton Keynes University Hospital A&E, Standing Way, Eaglestone, Milton Keynes, MK6 5LD

  • Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing Support for Children and Young People

    A range of services and support is available for supporting children and young people in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes with their emotional health and wellbeing.


    A local working group has co-produced a document which sets out clearly how children and young people can access support across Bedfordshire. This document is called “How you feel matters: Getting help in Bedfordshire” and can be accessed through the following link:

    How you feel matters


    Professionals – Emotional Wellbeing

    Luton CYP Mental Health Service Signposting

    Milton Keynes:

    MK CYP MHEW Pathway

    MK CYP MHEW Pathway Professionals


    How you feel Matters

    Central Bedfordshire:

    How you feel Matters



    What is CAMHS?

    The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provides outpatient assessments, support and treatment for children and young people up to the age of 18 experiencing moderate to severe mental health problems. The service works to provide them with a greater knowledge of their condition and improve coping techniques.

    CAMHS provide help to children and to the wider family, including those with living with foster parents, adopted children and young people living in children’s homes. The service may see children and adolescents on their own, with their parents or with their family, and may also see parents on their own.

    To find out more visit their website:

    Bedfordshire CAMHS

    Milton Keynes CAMHS:

  • Eating Disorders

    The Bedfordshire and Luton Community Eating Disorders Service for Children and Young People (CEDS-CYP) is a specialist CAMHS service for young people up to the age of 18 who are experiencing an eating disorder. It is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and covers Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

    To find out more visit their website:

    CAMHS – Services – Bedfordshire and Luton Community Eating Disorders Service for Children & Young People (

    Telephone: 01234 893300 / 01234 893301

    The Milton Keynes Eating Disorder Service is provided by CAMHS

    Caraline accepts referrals from adults and young persons (17 years +) in the Luton and Bedfordshire area.  The service offers psychological therapies for mild to moderate common mental health problems where the primary problem is Eating Disorder.

    To find out more visit their website:

    Beat provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to help adults and young people in the UK to beat their eating disorders.  These are available to families living across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes

    Beat provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to help adults and young people in the UK to beat their eating disorders.

    To find out more visit their website: or email: [email protected]

  • CHUMS Bedfordshire and Luton

    CHUMS provides a range of specialist services to support children in difficult circumstances, these include one to one counselling and group support for children and young people across Bedfordshire and Luton with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. Anyone can refer a child to the service, they also accept self-referrals.

    CHUMS offers free confidential support and advice for children and young people up to 25 years old.

    To find out more visit their website:

  • Youth Information Service - Young People's Mental Health Service Milton Keynes

    The Youth Information Service (YiS) Young Peoples Mental Health counselling service is a brief 6 session model for young people aged 11-21 who live, learn or work in Milton Keynes or the surrounding areas.

    To find out more visit their website:

  • School Nursing

    School Nursing School Nurses can support on a one to one basis virtually or in school where there is a need for talking therapy and guidance with issues of exam pressure, relationships and other health issues or conditions.

    0-19 team Single Point of Access can direct any enquires to the relevant school nurse team on any day.

    Please see contact details for the following areas:

    Bedfordshire 0-19 Service School Nursing Team

    Telephone: 0300 555 0606 Health Hub availabile from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday

    School Nursing Service (

    Luton 0-19 Service School Nursing Team

    Telephone: 0300 555 0606 Health Hub availabile from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday

    Milton Keynes 0-19 Universal Health Service (Health Visitors and School Nurses)

    Telephone: 01908 725100 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4.30pm)

  • Chat Health and Parent Line

    ChatHealth, is a text service for young people aged 11-19 (or aged 25 with SEND) to confidentially ask for help about a range of issues or make an appointment with a school nurse. They can also find out how to access other local services including emotional support or sexual health services.

    Chat Health Bedfordshire TEXT 07507 331450

    Chat Health Luton TEXT 07520 616070

    Chat Health Milton Keynes TEXT 07480 635517

    Parentline is a confidential text messaging advice and support line for parents and carers of children ages 0-19 years

    Parentline Bedfordshire TEXT 07507 331456

    Parentline Luton TEXT 07507 331886—children’s/parentline-luton


    NHS Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) has partnered with charity Mental Health Innovations to offer young people in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes free and confidential mental health support 24/7, through the charity’s text messaging support service Shout.

    People aged 11 to 25 living in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes can text the word REFLECT to 85258 to be connected to a trained Shout Volunteer.

    The service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can help with issues such as anxiety, stress, loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts. The conversation, which takes place entirely by text message, aims to help the person texting reach a calmer place with a plan to move forward. It will also signpost them to further support available locally.

  • Mental Health Support Lines

    Whether you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, these helplines and support groups can offer expert advice.

    Anxiety UK

    Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

    Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm)


    Bipolar UK

    A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.



    CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.

    Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)


    Men’s Health Forum

    24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.


    Mental Health Foundation

    Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.


    No Panic

    Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD.

    Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge


    OCD Action

    Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.

    Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge


    OCD UK

    A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

    Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)



    Young suicide prevention society.

    Phone: HOPELINEUK 0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm, and 2pm to 10pm on weekends and bank holidays)



    Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

    Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)


    Abuse (child, sexual, domestic violence)


    Children’s charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.

    Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)

    0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)



    Advice on dealing with domestic violence.

    Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)


    Addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling)

    National Gambling Helpline

    Phone: 0808 8020 133 (daily, 8am to midnight)


    Narcotics Anonymous

    Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily, 10am to midnight)



    Cruse Bereavement Care

    Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)


    Crime victims

    Victim Support

    Phone: 0808 168 9111 (24-hour helpline)


    Eating disorders


    Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)


    Learning disabilities


    Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.

    Phone: 0808 808 1111 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)



    Family Lives

    Advice on all aspects of parenting, including dealing with bullying.

    Phone: 0808 800 2222 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 3pm)




    The UK’s largest provider of relationship support.


    Stay Alive App

     Grassroots Suicide Prevention (

  • Support for Adult Wellbeing including Parent / Carer resources

    The Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service is for residents of Bedfordshire (excluding Luton who have a separate service) who experience depression, anxiety, sadness, extreme shyness, obsessive behaviour, phobias, relationship difficulties including depression and common mental health symptoms or other psychological issues which are holding them back in their lives. It provides one-to-one sessions and/or group workshops.

    The service offers help with depression, anxiety, sadness, extreme shyness, obsessive behaviour, phobias, relationship difficulties including depression and common mental health symptoms or other psychological issues.

    Following an interview with you either in person on over the phone, you will be offered a range of options that can help you to understand why you are feeling as you do, the reasons behind this and tools and strategies to help you handle things and get more out of your life. Options and approaches include workshops, group therapy, one to one therapy, homework and suggested reading.

    Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service

    Telephone 01234 880400

    Milton Keynes Talking Therapies Service Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is a free, confidential NHS service providing psychological treatment for depression and anxiety disorders.  The service offer treatment such as: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) delivered either face to face or online, guided self-help, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), counselling for depression, workshops to help you deal with stress/worry/ panic and other common mental health problems, telephone sessions for ease of therapy in your own home.

    Milton Keynes Talking Therapies Service (IAPT)

    Telephone: 01908 725099

  • Self-Harm and suicidal thoughts - help

    Self-harm, or self-injury, describes a wide range of things people deliberately do to themselves that appear to be harmful but usually do not kill them. Self-harm is not usually a failed attempt at suicide, but it can still be very hard for parents or carers.

    Cutting the arms or the back of the legs with a razor or knife is the most common form of self-harm, but self-harm can take many forms, including burning, biting, hitting or taking overdoses.

    A young person may self-harm to help them cope with negative feelings, to feel more in control or to punish themselves. It can be a way of relieving overwhelming feelings that build up inside, when they feel isolated, angry, guilty or desperate.’

    North Bedfordshire CAMHS

    Telephone: 01234 893301

    South Bedfordshire/Luton CAMHS

    Telephone: 01582 708140

  • CAMHS - Mental Health Support Teams (Schools)

    The Mental Health Support Teams are a new service designed to help meet the mental health needs of children and young people in education settings. They are made up of senior clinicians and higher-level therapists and Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs). Senior clinicians and higher-level therapists within the team will be responsible for the supervision and management of EMHPs within the team.

    North Bedfordshire: 01234 893355

    South Bedfordshire: 01582 707635

    Luton: Telephone: 01525 638614

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