How to communicate with children and young people in distress
Strategies for supporting children and young people to share information about their wellbeing and safety
One in 10 young people aged between 5 and 16 years experiences mental health difficulties.1 Children and young people often communicate their distress differently from adults, in more subtle and unpredictable ways.
A key skill for any clinician is finding ways to communicate with patients in a flexible, responsive manner, and this is particularly put to the test when building a rapport with children and young people. Most children and young people experiencing distress will not have a mental health condition, and it is therefore important to try not to pathologise normal emotions and reactions.
This article introduces the biological, psychological, and social factors to consider when exploring children and young people’s mental health and suggests strategies you can use to support them to share information that is relevant to their wellbeing and safety.
Though psychiatric diagnoses are not described in this article, we hope the following pointers will help