Young people's therapy

The mental wellbeing of a child is just as important as their physical health. Often young people who suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, don’t get the early specialist support they need.

Click here to read our Child and Adolescent outpatient services brochure

Are you worried about a young person’s mental health?

It can be difficult for a parent or carer to identify when a child’s behaviour is related to a mental health condition, and when they may need specialist support. Young people face a range of unique pressures in the modern age and the following information will offer you help and guidance on identifying the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition, and advise you on how best to seek support.

Why do mental health difficulties occur in young people?

There are huge pressures on young people in modern life. Bullying, including cyber bullying, exam stress, peer pressure, social media burdens and family breakdowns are all common pressures.

Young people may secretly struggle emotionally, and engage in unhealthy behaviours as a result. However, it is important to remember that you and they don’t have to cope alone.

Children and teenagers can sometimes find discussing issues with a clinician much easier than discussing them with a parent. The clinician can then give clarity regarding whether there is a mental illness or not and they can provide support to the young person and their families. The clinician can treat or prevent mental illness and advise how to manage risks that the young person poses to themselves, or that others pose to them.

How can Priory help?

Mental health treatment for children and teensEarly intervention is key to reducing the likelihood of a condition developing into something more serious. Priory offers fast access to affordable assessment and treatment, enabling a young person to get back on track as quickly as possible. If you are worried that your child is struggling emotionally or if they have stopped communicating effectively with you, an assessment is worthwhile.

Our services give you the opportunity to provide the best possible support for children and young people. We provide a comprehensive range of evidence-based therapy services, all tailored to each individual and their specific needs. We provide direct access to the leading experts in child and adolescent psychiatry, and our highly skilled teams offer the best mental health support in the UK.

  • 93% of people receiving treatment last year had improved mental wellbeing after treatment
  • 99% rated the quality of their care as good or excellent

To read examples on how we have supported young people to overcome their mental health conditions, please scroll down to the "Common mental health difficulties for young people" section below.

Priory Wellbeing Centres

Priory Wellbeing Centres offer fast access to services for young people, meaning they can gain access to support quickly. We offer flexible appointment times to suit you, meaning that appointments can be made after school or college days have finished. Our centres offer appropriate evidence-based treatment, and patients are assured of the utmost discretion and confidentiality.

We understand that this may be a daunting experience for a young person, so we place great emphasis on putting people at ease from the moment they arrive and we offer a welcoming, comfortable and friendly environment.

Treatment is provided by the country’s leading therapists, consultant psychiatrists and psychologists, offering proven outpatient treatments to help manage mental health conditions. All of our treatments are evidence-based and Priory ensures that therapists have the required qualifications and experience to treat your child.

It can be difficult to find this reassurance when sourcing your own therapist elsewhere. Priory monitors all of the care provided within our services very carefully and we respond promptly to feedback from patients and their families.

Young people's outpatient packages

Priory also provides a tailored outpatient therapy package for young people who have anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our packages offer certainty of price for a set amount of 1:1 therapy sessions, including discounted rates. The amount of sessions that we recommend within each package is based on national guidelines. Please click here for further information.

Teenage depression... a parent's guide

We've produced a guide to help parents better understand depression in teenagers. In the guide, Priory’s Group Associate Medical Director and Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg explains the common causes of depression, the signs that your teenager may be suffering and what can you do to help them. Please click here to download the guide.

Making an appointment

To make an appointment, simply find your preferred site using our location finder below, and call us directly to make an appointment or find out more information. If you prefer to go via your GP, they can refer your child or young person directly to us.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Young people's therapy, please call 0800 840 3219. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

Common mental health difficulties for young people

Anxiety disorders

  • Generalised anxiety – constantly worrying and avoiding worrying situations
  • Panic disorder – attacks of intense anxiety that occur unexpectedly and cause physical symptoms
  • Social anxiety – may include avoiding going out and talking to people, due to fear of not knowing what to say, or being judged
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – including starting rituals to try to stop unpleasant thoughts or to prevent something bad from happening
  • Phobias – avoiding certain situations or objects at all costs due to fearing them, and becoming very distressed if they are encountered

Read our anxiety case study
Read our OCD case study


A young person may be struggling in several aspects of life as they see the world slightly differently to many people. What is considered to be 'normal' social communication might not be comfortable to them and they are likely to need routine and to have a dislike of change. They are probably happy on their own, engaging in their particular area of interest. Read our case study.

Read our case study


A young person may have stopped socialising and reduced their engagement in hobbies. You may find that they are rarely happy, do not seem to enjoy things that they once did, and they might not be sleeping or eating well. You might feel frustrated with them for not taking a pride in their appearance, or working hard at school or college.

Read our case study

Eating disorders

This can include anorexia and bulimia; a young person will often hide symptoms but if they are losing weight quickly, counting calories, restricting their diet or are preoccupied with their body or weight, they might have an eating disorder present or developing.


If a young person has experienced an event that they have perceived as very frightening, they might start getting nightmares or unpleasant memories of the incident.  They may avoid similar situations or startle easily.


This is very common in young people and needs to be handled calmly to help the young person to agree to access treatment and support. If you start noticing scars or cuts on a young person, they might be self-harming to cope with certain struggles.


ADHD symptoms include a young person struggling to concentrate, having an abundance of energy, acting without thought of consequences and being constantly fidgety.

Sleep problems

These occur at any age and can affect mental state. A thorough assessment will normally lead to treatment or therapy recommendations that will help.

Substance abuse and addictions

Mental illness can be caused by using substances and may also lead to substance abuse. This can also lead to an addiction to that substance, such as being reliant on alcohol or even prescription drugs.

What happens when you come to a Wellbeing Centre?

Information for young people, parents and carers

  • You can be seen on your own or with a family member, or you can do a mixture of both – you will be given the choice
  • Appointments last between 30 and 90 minutes. Reception staff can tell you how long your appointment will be in advance
  • Normally an initial assessment with a psychiatrist lasts for up to 90 minutes 
  • A therapy session is 50 minutes and a follow-up appointment with a psychiatrist might be between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the amount of time that you need to talk and have all of  your questions answered
  • Information can be kept confidential if you wish; no one is told anything without your permission, unless you or someone else is at imminent risk (this will be explained in more detail at your first appointment, or you can contact the clinic to hear more in advance of your appointment)
  • Clinicians do not do blood tests or physical examinations in the clinic; they might offer to measure your height, weight or blood pressure but will only do so with your permission
  • You will be listened to and you will not be judged

A number of therapies can be offered at our centres, and the most appropriate therapy for your individual circumstances will be recommended. They include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Family therapy
  • Dietetic input

Information for schools

Along with the everyday struggles that mental health difficulties can bring, they can also prevent young people from achieving their best in school.

There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital for self-harm - over the last 10 years this figure has increased by 68%. In addition, nearly 90% of support staff, teachers, lecturers, school heads and college leaders reported dealing with a challenging or disruptive student during this school year.

It is estimated that between 1 in 12 children and 1 in 15 adolescents self-harm.

Many schools make contact with Priory to discuss how we can support staff, pupils and their families. We offer bespoke support packages for schools - if you’d like to discuss this, please get in touch directly on: 0800 840 3219

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