Many young people wait a long time to receive the help they need for their mental health; but evidence shows that if they and their parents or carers are provided with suitable knowledge, skills and tools, there are many things they can do to build mentally healthy lives and reduce the risk of mental ill health.

A father was away on business when he received the call all parents dread. It was his wife. ‘It’s Lizzie,’ she said, ‘she’s in hospital, and it’s serious.’

He left straight away and rushed to the hospital to join his wife and their fourteen-year-old daughter. There were no broken limbs or bleeding. It was not a car accident, not cancer or any physical health breakdown. This was a mental health crisis.

‘I knew Lizzie was developing an eating disorder, but I didn’t realise how ill she was becoming so quickly’ said Dad, who is a psychologist. Mum has a degree in education. You see, a mental health crisis can happen in anyone’s family.

‘Thankfully I journeyed through to recovery, continued my education, went to medical school, and qualified as a doctor. My parents played a crucial role in enabling me to rebuild a mentally healthy life through family-based self-help’ Lizzie

Family Mental Wealth is a government funded social enterprise co-founded in 2018 by Dr Elizabeth McNaught (an NHS doctor) and her parents Nick and Carol Pollard (lifelong social entrepreneurs). The family are passionate about helping parents gain the knowledge and skills they need to build the mental health of their children. To this end, they have developed a website and Parent Toolkit. Parents can sign-up for free to access Part One of the toolkit, ‘What every parent needs to know‘. There is a membership subscription to access the rest of the toolkit.

In co-operation with clinicians and researchers at the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, they are developing Headway®. This is a digital tool that will facilitate family-based self-help, enabling young people to build mentally healthy lives.

The Headway® app will provide parents and carers with knowledge and skills to enable them to help their child, and Insight Tools to help them identify risk factors that might lead to mental ill health in their child. For children and young people, the app will provide therapeutic activities that will help them to reduce the impact of these risk factors and build a mentally healthy life.

Family Mental Wealth are looking for families to volunteer to test the initial prototype. For more information, visit their website.

These are preventative measures – if a member of your family is in crisis now, seek professional help. You can contact:

If you have a child or young person in your family who is suffering from an eating disorder we have a befriender who would be willing to offer you some support. Please get in touch, or to find out more about our befriending service on our website.

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