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How to support your child’s mental health

11.02.21

Children’s mental health has been impacted like never before by the pandemic and, for foster children already facing mental health challenges, this is a difficult time. Foster carers and their families may be experiencing challenges of their own.

What help is on hand to support the mental health and wellbeing of your foster children and birth children? Here is a list of support organisations and contact details.

Talk to your fostering agency

The first port of call should always be your supervising social worker and the staff and managers of your fostering agency, who will listen to your concerns and respond with practical suggestions and support.

Right now, our agencies are going above and beyond to support our fostering families because we know how hard this is for everyone. It’s important to us that you don’t feel on your own with whatever you are facing. Our agencies provide support 24/7 and, in many cases, the people on the other end of the phone will know you, your foster child and your family.

Your peer support groups can also be helpful if you need a listening ear.

Mental health training

The National Fostering Group training resource is vast and includes sessions on mental health and well-being. All our training is free and delivered locally or online.

NHS support

If you suspect more serious mental health problems, it is important to get professional help for your foster child or birth child as quickly as possible.

GPs remain open and available to support their patients even if consultations may be done in a different way to normal. Always talk to your GP or your school counselling service if you have concerns about your child.

You may be referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team for an assessment (also known as Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services or CYPMHS). If it is an emergency, go to the emergency department of your local hospital for an urgent referral to the appropriate mental health service.

Telephone helplines

Here are some other helpful sources of advice, support and information for fostering families from child fostering organisations:

The Fostering Network

All our fostering families are given membership of The Fostering Network, which is the UK’s leading fostering charity. Its helplines are staffed by practice experts who can provide information and advice on a whole range of issues, including mental health. Members can also access stress support services and a legal helpline.

Foster carers in England

Call the helpline on 020 7401 9582.

During the pandemic it is operating a call back service, so you will need to leave your name and telephone number. Lines are open from 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday. You can also email them at [email protected].

Foster carers in Wales

Call Fosterline Wales on 0800 316 7664.

It is open from 9.30am to 12.30pm Monday to Friday. You can also email them at [email protected]. They produce a range of free downloadable factsheets, including one on mental health.

Foster carers in Scotland

Call Fosterline Scotland on 0141 204 1400.

It is open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday. You can also email them at [email protected].

Foster carers in Northern Ireland

Call the member’s helpline for Northern Ireland on 028 9070 5056.

It is open from 9.30am to 2pm Monday to Thursday and from 9.30am to 11.30am on Friday. You can also email them at [email protected].

Fostering Network Stress Support Service

This completely confidential support service is available to all members of The Fostering Network on 01384 889549. It is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Other telephone support services

Samaritans 116 123

Childline 0800 1111

Young Minds Parents Helpline 0808 802 5544

National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

MENCAP 0808 808 1111

Cruse Bereavement Care 0808 808 1677

Not a foster carer yet?

Our foster carers look after foster children who have mental health and wellbeing issues because of the experiences they’ve had. If you want to help make a real difference to their futures by becoming a foster carer, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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