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Supporting Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Young people who are accessing the neurodevelopmental team for further assessment may also experience issues with regards to their mental health. There is evidence to suggest that young people with neurodevelopmental profiles can also experience things such as: anxiety, low mood, suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviour to name a few. Even those young people who do not necessarily get a formal diagnosis may well experience issues with regards to their mental health. Please be mindful that not all young people will experience mental health difficulties.

Below are some summaries of common mental health difficulties that young people may experience, what they mean, how to look out for early warning signs and how to manage them. Please see links to other websites, which provide further information and recommendations at the bottom of this page.


What is it?

A simple definition of anxiety is ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome’. It is an emotion characterised by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes to the body.

Early warning signs include: feeling scared/worried, churning stomach, feeling sick or like you are going to faint, breathing faster with a racing heart and feeling hot/sweaty.

Why does it happen?

Different things can set this off and a few examples include: worries about going somewhere new, meeting people, busy/noisy places, scared of not knowing what to say or do or what is going to happen, frightened of making a mistake and getting it wrong and not being able to do things. Sometimes young people may not be able to say why they are feeling this way.

What can I do?

It is really important to know that anxiety is really common and lots and lots of people will experience it at some time in their life, adults as well as young people. The good thing is you can do something to reduce this, manage it better, and in some cases stop it altogether. This can be done on your own by understanding, reading up on, and learning how to manage it. In some cases, you may need help from your parents or carers or professionals such as CAMHS or school based councillors. Try and talk to someone you feel comfortable with, about how you are feeling.

Low mood/ depression

What is it?

Lots of people, young and old may at some time in their life experience low mood or depression. There are times where we may feel unhappy or sad for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we may not know why we feel like this, but are able to get over this quite quickly. However, for some people, it can be more difficult. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and a loss of interest. It can affect how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Why does it happen?

Sometimes we can identify what may cause this such as something bad happening to us, losing someone close or really struggling to fit in with our friendship group. Sometimes not being able to concentrate or do what is asked of us can be frustrating and lead to feeling sad or unhappy.

What can I do?

It is important to know that these feelings are really common and there’s loads of help out there. Sometimes just recognising you are feeling like this and sharing it with others you can trust, can be really helpful in trying to feel better. It’s good to tell someone how you are feeling so they can help and support you in getting better and help you learn ways of managing how you are feeling. On occasions, some young people may need help from professionals on how best to manage how they are feeling. Below are some links to resources relating to low mood/depression.

You can call the services stated below for support and advice:

Suicidal ideation and self-harm

What is it?

There are times where some young people can be so overwhelmed by what is going on for them that they may experience thoughts to harm themselves or have thoughts to end their life.

Why does it happen?

This is usually experienced at that given time of stress and usually stops after a while.

What can I do?

If you do feel like this, there are lots of things you can do to help yourself. You can speak to someone about how you are feeling. You can also distract yourself and do something that you really enjoy such as listen to music or play a favourite game that you like. Spend time with friends.

If these feelings continue, it is really important you tell someone as there is lots of help out there to manage these thoughts. If you are struggling, speak to someone you can trust such as a friend, a parent or grandparent, a teacher you trust, your doctor or Childline.

Challenging behaviour

What is it?

It can be difficult for all of us to manage our big emotions; it can be particularly tricky for children and young people with neurodevelopmental profiles. They can become distressed or frustrated by the difficulties they experience on a day-to-day basis and communicate this through behaviours that challenge us. This behaviour can look like: being moody, saying hurtful things, hitting someone, breaking or throwing things, or refusing to do something they have been asked to do.

Why does it happen?

We can all feel overwhelmed at times and children and young people are no different. Some young people may be aware of how they are feeling and notice when they are starting to become frustrated. Others may find this more difficult and not yet know what their ‘triggers’ are. There are many strategies which young people can be supported to use to help them to manage their emotions.

What can I do?

Help your young person to recognise what makes them feel this way

  • It can be really helpful to support your young person to identify the things that trigger them to feel a big emotion.
  • Encouraging a young person to share this information with the people they trust is also important. This means that the young person can then be supported to learn ways of managing that emotion.
  • The information and helpful strategies can then be shared with the important people in their life e.g. teachers, caregivers etc.

Remember not to take everything personally

  • It is important for parents and carers to remember that the young person is not always behaving in a challenging way deliberately.
  • It is often because they are struggling to understand, process and manage some big emotions.
  • Some children/young people with neurodevelopmental profiles may find it difficult to describe how they are feeling and may not show how they are feeling until things have built up.
  • It can be helpful for parents/carers to support the young person to understand their emotions/feelings and how to manage them in a positive way.

Establishing potential triggers for challenging behaviour

Downloadable documents:

Useful links: