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Words written in bold indicate that there is an entry on that subject. At the end of an entry, clicking on O, W or B will take you to details of a relevant organisation, website or book, respectively.

adolescent units
Places where health professionals work with young people and their families to try and help them sort out their problems. Most young people attending adolescent units are expected to continue to live at home some of the time, particularly at weekends, but there are some residential units that are more full-time. You are only likely to be referred to an adolescent unit if you have already tried a number of other ways of dealing with your problems and not found them helpful. Adolescent units may cater for young people between 12 and 19 years or for a narrower age band.

adult psychiatric outpatient clinic

Different parts of the country have different age limits for adult services and for child and adolescent services. In some areas, if you need specialist help with your problems and are over 16 and have left school or are aged 16–18 and still at school, your GP may suggest that you attend an adult psychiatric outpatient clinic. However, not all psychiatrists in adult clinics are experienced in working with young people. If you are unhappy with the advice or treatment offered, ask your GP whether you can have a second opinion or whether a child and adolescent psychiatrist could be consulted.

adult psychiatric ward
Only a small number of young people are admitted to adult psychiatric wards in hospitals. You might be admitted to one so that professionals can assess your problems more thoroughly before deciding on what treatment you need, or because you are so upset that you need constant care and support. If you are under 16, you should be transferred to a more appropriate ward as soon as possible. Most young people are admitted on a voluntary basis, but occasionally a compulsory admission may be made or the young person may be admitted as an emergency. See compulsory detention and voluntary hospital admission for more detail.

Agoraphobia, which means fear of public places, covers a range of anxieties. If you have this condition, you may be worried about using public transport or anxious about being in crowds or fearful of leaving your home. Agoraphobia sometimes starts in late adolescence, just when you are expecting to become more independent. It can be very restricting. Treatment usually involves some form of behaviour therapy. See also phobias.


Ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the type of alcohol found in drinks, acts as a depressant or sedative, leading most people to become less inhibited than usual.

Because it is so widely available and so socially acceptable, it is easy to forget what a powerful drug alcohol is. Absorbed into the bloodstream, it has an effect in 5–l0 minutes. Even small amounts can affect judgement and concentration, and heavy drinking or getting drunk can significantly affect emotional reactions. For instance, violence is often associated with alcohol, and people are also more likely to drive dangerously and have unprotected sex when they have drunk too much.

Because of the way their livers work, women are generally more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. And even moderate amounts of alcohol can be bad for a baby if a woman is pregnant.

You may need to look carefully at your drinking habits if you:

  • are beginning to increase the amount you drink.
  • find you can’t relax without a drink.
  • are drinking earlier in the day.
  • are drinking frequently when you are alone.

Dependency on alcohol can occur even among people drinking only moderate amounts each day.

Many people drift into drinking more heavily when they are under stress or as an attempt to escape from anxiety or depression. However, regular heavy drinking can lead to mental health problems, often increasing anxiety and depression and leaving you less fit to cope. It can also damage your physical health. If you think you may have a problem with your drinking, see your GP or contact a helpful organisation.

If you are taking medication for mental health problems, you may not be able to drink alcohol – check with your doctor. It is also particularly dangerous to combine alcohol with many recreational drugs as the interaction between the two substances may be more powerful than you might expect.
O[alcohol] W[alcohol] B[alcohol]


Also known as 'speed', 'billy', 'whizz' and 'sulphate', these drugs are powerful stimulants or 'uppers'. They are currently available on prescription for certain conditions but are also available illegally in various forms.

The commonest illegal form is amphetamine sulphate powder, which is usually snorted up the nose but may also be swallowed in a drink, smoked or injected in solution. However, it is often mixed with other substances, so injecting can be extremely dangerous. Crystal methamphetamine – a very strong, pure form of the drug, also known as crystal, meth or ice – is usually smoked. Amphetamine base, from which amphetamine sulphate powder is made, is also very strong and pure. It is injected or wrapped in cigarette papers and swallowed.

If you take amphetamines, you will probably feel more energetic, alert and confident. Your breathing and heartbeat will speed up, your pupils will dilate and you will lose your appetite. These effects can last for 3–8 hours. However, as they wear off, you may feel tired, irritable, restless, anxious or depressed.

If taken in high doses over a period of days, the effects can be more serious. They may include panic, feelings of persecution and hallucinations, as well as physical effects such as tremors, sweating, palpitations and, occasionally, seizures. It is particularly dangerous to take amphetamines if you have breathing or heart problems or high blood pressure. It is also very dangerous to mix amphetamines with other uppers such as nitrites (poppers), cocaine or ecstasy as this will increase the strain on the heart.

If you are a long-term user, you may find that your general health is also adversely affected. If you want to stop using amphetamines, make sure you have plenty of support. You are likely to feel very tired, apathetic and continually hungry for a time.


anorexia nervosa
This eating disorder consists of an extreme fear of being fat that does not decrease even if the person becomes dangerously thin. It frequently starts in adolescence but may begin earlier or later. It is more common among girls, but boys can be affected, too. The causes are not fully understood but may include anxieties about growing up, being teased about being overweight, pressures at home or school or a reaction to an upsetting event.

The person with anorexia can go for long periods without eating and then eat only minimal amounts. They will make excuses to miss meals, lie about having eaten or conceal food rather than eat it, although they may enjoy planning meals and cooking for others. They may try to get rid of the food they have eaten by making themselves sick (see also bulimia nervosa). They may also undertake vigorous, lengthy exercise and consume laxatives in an effort to lose weight.

Severe weight loss is the major sign of anorexia. In addition, a girl's periods may stop if her weight drops well below normal. Other symptoms, which may become more obvious as weight continues to be lost, include sleeping problems, depressed feelings, irritability, headaches, constipation, slowed pulse rate, lowered blood pressure and greater sensitivity to cold. The young person may become isolated from friends and/or over-concerned with schoolwork or other issues or may develop obsessions or compulsions.

Once weight has decreased beyond a certain point, it becomes very difficult to reason with the person about the importance of eating. However, long-term severe anorexia can damage health and, in some cases, can be life-threatening.

The earlier the treatment, the more likely it is to be effective. So, if you are worried about yourself or a friend or family member, it is important to seek help from your GP as soon as possible. Specialist care may also be needed.
O[eating disorders] W[anorexia nervosa] B[eating disorders]


If you have been feeling very depressed for a long time or if you have been very severely depressed every day for about two weeks or more, your doctor may suggest prescribing you one of the antidepressant drugs.

These are not prescribed for mild depression, which responds better to other forms of support such as counselling. In addition, although antidepressants are effective in relieving medium-to-severe depression in the majority of cases, they do not work for everyone.

There are three main types of antidepressants:

  • tricyclic drugs.
  • selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and related drugs, which seem to have fewer side-effects than the tricyclics.
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are not frequently prescribed as they react adversely with certain foods.

Antidepressant drugs – which are not addictive – are usually prescribed for several months or longer. The aim is to enable you to feel well enough to cope with life and tackle some of the difficulties that may have contributed to your depression. You should also be offered other forms of support such as counselling as soon as you are able to benefit from them.

It may be two or three weeks before you notice any improvement. Your physical symptoms will probably improve first – you will start to sleep better and will regain your appetite. Next, you will begin to feel more alert and active and find it easier to concentrate and remember things. Finally, your mood should improve, although you may have the odd black day from time to time.

You may experience some side-effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision or constipation, but these will usually diminish as treatment proceeds. However, if you find any side-effects very troubling, tell your doctor who may then vary the dose or try a different drug. You should avoid drinking alcohol with antidepressants.

It is important not to stop taking antidepressants without consulting your doctor as the depression may well recur. When you are ready to stop, your doctor will gradually reduce the dose so that you can avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.


antipsychotic drugs
Also known as the major tranquillisers or neuroleptics, these drugs are used to treat distressing symptoms such as hearing voices or disturbed thoughts, which can occur in conditions such as schizophrenia and manic depression, when the person is out of touch with reality. Antipsychotic drugs are also sometimes used in the short term to alleviate severe anxiety or episodes of mania.

These powerful drugs, generally prescribed by a psychiatrist, need careful monitoring. They should be offered alongside other forms of support to enable the person cope better with everyday life.

If you are prescribed an antipsychotic, it may take some days or weeks before you notice any improvement in the way you feel. As you start to recover, the dose will probably be reduced. You should continue taking the drug for some time after you feel better and then come off it gradually to reduce the risk of a relapse.

When first taking the drug, some people experience side-effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness and indigestion, but these usually diminish after a time. There are, however, risks of more serious adverse effects if high doses of the drugs are prescribed continuously for a period of several years. You should discuss this with your doctor.
O[medication] W[antipsychotic drugs]

Everyone feels anxious from time to time. However, if your anxiety is severe or long lasting and begins to dominate your life, it is sensible to seek help. Just why you should feel so anxious is not always clear. It may be that you are particularly vulnerable to anxiety, or your anxiety may be due to upsetting events or a combination of stresses (see stress).

There are a number of symptoms of anxiety:

Physical symptoms

  • stomach churning
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • dizziness
  • accelerated heart rate
  • increased muscle tension
  • aches and pains
  • changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • minor ailments

Emotional symptoms

  • feeling frightened
  • feeling uneasy
  • restlessness
  • tenseness
  • irritability
  • inability to concentrate

You may also be excessively worried about not coping or afraid that something dreadful is about to happen, or you may even have a sense of unreality.

Anxiety may also result in panic attacks, phobias, obsessions, compulsions or psychosomatic illness. It also often occurs alongside other mental health problems such as depression. If anxiety continues for any length of time, it can be exhausting.

Anxiety is more difficult to deal with once it becomes entrenched, so seek help early if you can. Your GP may offer you support or refer you for other help such as counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy. Relaxation exercises, regular physical exercise, healthy meals and cutting down on caffeine-containing drinks will all help you cope better.
O[anxiety] W[anxiety] B[anxiety]

'I can't stop worrying about the future of the world and my family. I dread the day my mum or dad dies, and I keep crying when I think about it.'


approved social worker (ASW)
If you are detained under the Mental Health Act l983 (or equivalent legislation in Scotland), an approved social worker will be involved. An ASW is a qualified social worker who has been specially trained and approved by the local authority to handle mental health problems. He or she will always look for alternatives to compulsory detention. The equivalent of an ASW in Scotland is a mental health officer (MHO).

art therapy
In art therapy, you might first draw, paint or make something with your hands. Whatever you have created often then serves as a starting point for a discussion of your feelings with the art therapist. See creative therapies.

assertiveness training
If you lack self-esteem or expect too much from yourself or try too hard to please, you might try assertiveness training. Being assertive does not mean being aggressive or selfish. It means being able to express your own needs and wishes in a calm and confident way.

In assertiveness training, you will practise skills such as how to say 'no' politely but firmly in difficult situations, how to ask for things for yourself and how to give and receive criticism and compliments. You will be encouraged to test your skills in actual situations. Assertiveness training can help you realise that it doesn’t matter if you sometimes make mistakes or disappoint others. It is more important to think about what you really want from life.

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
A condition in which children have difficulty in concentrating and controlling their behaviour and are overactive. Such children tend to be restless and easily distracted and to behave impulsively. They find it hard to learn at school and make friends, and as a result, their self-esteem may be low and they may feel lonely or disliked. Symptoms usually start when the children are very young and always before the age of seven.

It is important to get help at an early stage. The GP should normally refer the child for specialist help from either a child and adolescent psychiatrist or a paediatrician. A combination of approaches including behaviour therapy, family therapy, counselling and special educational help may be suggested.

In adults, the drug Ritalin stimulates the part of the brain that regulates activity. Surprisingly, it can also have a calming effect in children, and may be prescribed as part of a comprehensive ADHD treatment programme. It should be prescribed by a specialist and carefully monitored. Other drugs such as Dexedrine have similar effects.


behaviour therapy
This can be an effective practical treatment for problems such as phobias, compulsions and obsessions. You and your therapist will try and identify your problem and the things that may trigger your distress. You will then look for an alternative way of responding to these triggers that will enable you to deal with the problem. This may involve working towards a simple aim such as patting a dog if you are terrified of dogs or travelling two stops on a bus if you are frightened of using public transport. By gradual exposure to the thing that frightens you, you become desensitised to the fear (see desensitisation, exposure treatment).
O[counselling and other therapies]

This group of drugs help control anxiety, and are sometimes referred to as the 'minor tranquillisers'. The best-known brands are Valium, Largactil, Ativan and Librium.

They reduce feelings of agitation and restlessness, relax muscles and slow down mental activity. If you are highly anxious, your doctor may prescribe one of them but usually for only a week or so. You should also be offered other forms of support.

Benzodiazepines should be used with great caution as anyone taking them for longer than a few weeks risks becoming dependent on them. Side-effects include drowsiness, dizziness, forgetfulness and unsteadiness, so you should not drive or operate dangerous machinery while taking them.

Benzodiazepines are also used as illegal drugs, often to offset the after-effects of stimulants. As well as the risk of dependency with regular use, they can exaggerate the effects of alcohol, and mixing the two can be dangerous.

If someone close to you has died, you will need time to come to terms with your loss. There is no set way to grieve, but you may experience a number of bewildering symptoms at different times over the following months:

  • shock
  • disbelief that the person has died
  • sadness
  • longing for the person
  • anger at what has happened
  • guilt that you are not reacting in the expected way, that you couldn’t prevent the death or even that you are still alive
  • disturbed sleeping and eating patterns
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • feeling agitated, exhausted or unwell

At other times, you may forget about the death and be able to carry on with normal activities.

It is important to try and express your feelings rather than bottling them up. Talk to friends or members of your family, or if that is too difficult, try writing down what you feel. If you find that your feelings are getting out of control or you are starting to feel very anxious or depressed, ask your GP about what support is available.
O[bereavement] W[bereavement] B[bereavement]

'I was in despair. I'd lost a close friend and felt I had come to the end of my life. So I phoned the Samaritans during the night - and they were there. They listened and didn't make me feel small. In fact, they saved my reason and my life.'


If you suffer from severe anxiety and have upsetting physical symptoms such excessive sweating, shaking or palpitations, your doctor may suggest prescribing a beta-blocker drug, especially to help you deal with a particular event, such as having to speak in public. The aim is to reduce your physical symptoms so that you can cope better with your anxiety. However, beta-blockers will have no effect on the psychological symptoms of anxiety or on symptoms such as muscle tension caused by stress. Having certain conditions, such as asthma, may prevent you from being able to take a beta-blocker.

These drugs usually take effect after a couple of days. Some people notice they have a dry mouth or feel rather drowsy while on them. Your GP should also suggest other ways of helping you deal with your anxiety.

bipolar affective disorder See manic depression

bulimia nervosa
In this eating disorder, enormous quantities of food are consumed in a very short time. This is known as 'binge eating'. Such episodes may be planned ahead and are usually kept secret. Bulimics often feel guilty or ashamed at their lack of control and then try to counter the effects by self-induced vomiting or by consuming laxatives, which can cause considerable damage to health. Vigorous exercise and a period of strict dieting often follow a binge.

Bulimia can reduce concentration so studies or work may be affected. Friendships and other relationships may suffer because of the secrecy involved. Someone with bulimia may well feel very depressed, and thoughts about suicide can sometimes occur.

It is important to seek help as soon as possible if you are worried about yourself or a friend or family member. Treatment involves encouraging the person to establish regular eating patterns and to maintain a steady weight without bingeing and vomiting. It may include counselling, group therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy or behaviour therapy. See also anorexia nervosa.
O[bulimia nervosa] W[bulimia nervosa]

This may range from physical attacks through name-calling and continual insensitive 'teasing' to deliberately excluding a person from certain activities or groups. It can occur at school, at work, in the family or in the neighbourhood. Bullying can deeply affect both those who are being bullied and those who see others being bullied. If you are the victim of a bully, you are likely to feel humiliated, vulnerable and anxious.

It is important to seek help at an early stage and bring everything out into the open, however difficult that might seem. You should not have to cope with bullying on your own. You will need support to raise your own confidence and self-esteem, which may have been damaged by the bullying, and to find helpful ways of dealing with the bullying should it reoccur.

Talk to your family, if appropriate, or to an understanding professional. Many schools and even some workplaces now have anti-bullying policies in place: check out what the procedure is and take advantage of it. If you find this too difficult, you could ring a helpline as a first step.

If you are a bully yourself, you also need support. You may be resorting to this type of behaviour because you yourself have been bullied or because you are confusing bullying with strong leadership. It is important that you find other ways of handling your relationships. Social skills training can sometimes be helpful.
O[bullying] W[bullying] B[bullying]

'I'm being bullied by a group of girls and I just want to die.'


This acts as a stimulant, speeding up the heart and breathing, reducing fatigue and helping concentration. Tea and coffee contain substantial amounts of caffeine and it is also present in cola drinks, chocolate, cocoa and some over-the-counter remedies.

Although a few cups of tea or coffee a day will probably do little harm to most people, caffeine can have unpleasant side-effects if taken in larger quantities:

  • headaches
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • dizziness
  • hand tremors
  • palpitations
  • depression
  • anxiety

The problem is that many people do not recognise that caffeine is the cause of their symptoms and so increase their intake to keep going.

If your consumption of caffeine is high and you notice unpleasant side-effects, it is a good idea to cut down. You could try substituting decaffeinated tea or coffee, herb tea, fruit juice or even water. If you have become dependent on caffeine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those caused by taking too much.


The drug cannabis – also known by a variety of names including 'blow' and 'dope' – comes from the plant Cannabis sativa and is available as both marijuana and resin. Marijuana ('grass' or 'weed') consists of the dried leaves and flowers of the plant. It can be smoked on its own in a pipe or in a cigarette ('joint' or 'spliff') but is often mixed with tobacco. Cannabis resin, or hashish ('hash'), can be eaten but is often smoked with tobacco or neat in a pipe.

Many people find that cannabis helps them to feel relaxed and happy and that sights and sounds become more vivid. However, others experience panic, anxiety, feelings of being persecuted or depression, particularly after large doses. Regular heavy users may run the risk of becoming dependent. If you feel you are smoking too much cannabis and want help in giving up, seek support.
O[drug misuse] W[cannabis] B[drugs]

child abuse
See sexual abuse

child and adolescent psychiatrist

This is a fully qualified doctor who has undertaken further specialist training in mental health and, in particular, in the stresses and difficulties that can occur in childhood and adolescence. Where appropriate, he or she will work closely with you and your family, alongside other health professionals, to help sort out problems. See also psychiatrist.

'It helps a lot when I can be with someone I trust. I need people to understand me, support me.'


child and family consultation service
Also known as family counselling services and child guidance clinics. These are places where health professionals can help children, young people and their families to understand and deal with their problems, which may range from difficulties in making friends to feeling very depressed. You may be asked to attend for just a few sessions or over a longer period.

In some areas, you can contact the service directly, but in others, you need to be referred by a GP, social worker or teacher.

'I'm a bit of a loner. Everyone else seems to have loads of friends to hang out with, but I spend all my time alone reading or listening to music in my room. Sometimes I get really depressed … but I can't bring myself to make friends.'

Children Act 1989
The 1989 Children Act, which covers England and Wales, brings together all the law relating to the responsibilities of parents and the social services for the upbringing, care and protection of children. It emphasises that the welfare of the child must be the main concern whenever arrangements relating to the child are made. It also stresses that the child’s view should always be taken into account. The Act mainly deals with children up to the age of 18.

In Scotland, the 1995 Children Act has similar general aims, although there are differences in court procedures and over issues of parental responsibility. In Northern Ireland, the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 is the equivalent legislation.

clinical psychologist
A clinical psychologist has a degree in psychology, which includes the study of normal and unusual behaviour, followed by further specialist qualifications in understanding and treating mental health problems. Some clinical psychologists specialise in helping children and adolescents.


Cocaine – also known as 'coke', 'charlie', 'snow' and 'C' – is a powerful stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is normally a white powder that can be injected or smoked with tobacco but is usually snorted up the nose. 'Crack' is freebase cocaine (treated with chemicals) that comes as small rocks or pellets and is smoked.

Cocaine speeds up the heart and breathing. People who take it feel more elated, alert and confident, but the effect usually wears off in about an hour. The effects of crack are more intense and short-lived, lasting only a matter of minutes.

Sometimes people feel anxious and panicky while under the influence of cocaine. These feelings worsen with high or repeated doses. Smoking a lot of crack over a short period may also lead to anxiety and feelings of persecution, and people taking it may become very over-excited and hyperactive. After the effects of crack or cocaine wear off, the person may feel tired and hungry and, possibly, agitated, anxious or depressed. Frequent long-term use of cocaine or crack can lead to anxiety, difficulties in sleeping and general ill health.

Cocaine, especially in its 'crack' form, is addictive and produces unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms. If you feel you have become dependent on cocaine or crack and want to come off, seek support.
O[drug misuse] W[cocaine] B[drugs]

cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)

If you are distressed or have low self-esteem, you are likely to view yourself and other people’s attitudes towards you in a negative way. This in turn may increase your unhappiness and lack of confidence. A cognitive behaviour therapist can help you break this cycle by encouraging you to recognise and challenge your negative reactions and to begin to see life in a more positive and realistic way.

For example, rather than telling yourself that there is no way that you can cope with a certain situation, you can decide to tackle it step by step. Or rather than telling yourself you are unpopular because you have few friends, you might learn to say (and believe), 'I have friends who like me and I can make more if I wish.'

Your therapist may ask you to keep a diary to help you understand your patterns of thinking and may use role play or relaxation techniques to help you cope.
O[counselling and other therapies] W[cognitive behaviour therapy]

'My friends think I'm weird because I'm scared of so many things.'

Also known as rituals, these are seemingly purposeless types of behaviour performed according to certain strict rules. Common compulsions include excessive handwashing and needless checking and touching and retouching objects in a certain order. Compulsions, which often accompany obsessions, are an attempt to alleviate anxiety and stress.

If you are affected by compulsions, you probably recognise that they are irrational but feel that you are unable to manage without them. Try to seek help at an early stage as compulsions can become very time-consuming and seriously restrict your life. Behaviour therapy can be very effective. If your family has been drawn into your behaviour, they should also be involved in your treatment so they can learn the best way to help.


compulsory detention
A small number of people are taken to and kept in hospital against their will under the terms of the Mental Health Act 1983 (which covers England and Wales) or the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984, so that their mental health problems can be assessed or treated. This may be in the interests of their own health and safety or for the protection of others.

Compulsory detention is also sometimes referred to as being 'sectioned' or being 'on a section' and the person who is detained may be called a 'formal patient'.

No single individual can section someone. Generally, three designated people – two doctors and a specially trained approved social worker – must agree that it is necessary. It should always be a last resort after everything else has been tried.

If you become a detained patient, you will not be free to leave hospital when you wish. There are special rules about treatment and whether or not you have the right to refuse it. You should be given information about your rights (including your right to appeal against detention) when you are admitted to hospital.
O[compulsory detention]

You have a right to expect that any personal discussions you have with medical professionals – for instance, doctors and psychiatrists – remain confidential, although they may be disclosed on a confidential basis to other professionals working in the same team. If you have any doubts as to the situation, check with the professional concerned.

Medical professionals should respect your right to confidentiality, even though they may try to persuade you to be more open with, for example, your family or friends if they feel this might help your situation. They should also make clear that there are some circumstances in which they may not be able to preserve confidentiality. These might include situations involving sexual abuse, a risk of suicide or a risk of harm to others.

consent to treatment

Young people have the right to be consulted by medical professionals (that is, doctors and psychiatrists) about their treatment or about any decisions that concern them, and their views should be listened to and respected. If you are aged 18 or over, you can consent to or refuse treatment on your own behalf, and this also applies in most cases if you are aged between 16 and 18.

If you are under 16, you can consent to treatment without your parents having to know, as long as you understand what the treatment is for and what the risks might be. However, most doctors will want to discuss with you why you don't want your parents to know. The law is a bit inconsistent in that, if you are under 16 and you refuse treatment, your parents or those responsible for you can consent on your behalf. However, you should still be consulted.

There are two circumstances when consent to treatment need not be obtained, either from the young person or from those with parental responsibility: in case of emergency when immediate action is essential to save life or prevent serious injury; and when the young person is detained under certain sections of the Mental Health Act l983 or Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 (see compulsory detention).


In this, people have the chance to explore their feelings and anxieties on a one-to-one basis and in confidence. Counsellors should be trained to listen, without making judgements, and to offer support while you work through your problems at your own pace. They use a variety of approaches, but their main aim will be to build up a relationship of trust with you so that you feel safe to express your feelings. They will not provide you with solutions but will try to guide you so that you find them for yourself.

Counselling and psychotherapy are quite similar. However, in counselling you are likely to focus on problems you are experiencing at the moment, whereas in psychotherapy you may look more closely at the past.

Anyone can set themselves up as a counsellor, so it is important that any you see have been recommended by someone you trust or by a suitable organisation.
O[counselling and other therapies] W[counselling]

'After I felt depressed a few times, I knew I'd always come out of it … It was horrible thinking it might come back, though. In the end, I went for counselling, which helped me feel more in control of my life.'

creative therapies
If you are distressed but find it difficult to talk about yourself or your feelings, you may find one of the creative therapies helpful. Also known as arts therapies, these include art therapy, dance and movement therapy, drama therapy and music therapy. They are a means of helping you explore your emotions through, say, a picture or a story, at your own pace and in a way that you may find easier to handle. You do not need any particular skill or ability to participate in one of the creative therapies, and you will probably find it an enriching and enjoyable experience.
O[counselling and other therapies] W[creative therapies]

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