Thousands of parents whose children are suffering with poor mental health are turning to a charity for help, new data suggests.

Figures from Young Minds show 13,228 people contacted the charity’s parent helpline from January 1 to December 8, while an extra 2,829 parents and carers needed urgent crisis support.

The main topics parents have needed help with over the last year are their child’s anxiety, anger, depression and low mood, behaviour and autism.

The data on people needing crisis support is new for 2023 and relates to children at immediate risk, such as those feeling suicidal, according to the findings, shared with the PA news agency.

Parents needing this type of help may be told to call 999 or to go to A&E, while others will be directed to 24-hour mental health services in their area or other charities such as the Samaritans.

Overall, the number of people contacting the Young Minds helpline is up slightly on pre-pandemic figures. In 2019, some 12,027 people sought guidance.

Laura Bunt, chief executive of Young Minds, said: “Every day, our parent helpline receives calls from people struggling to find support for young people who need help with their mental health. These are often young people with multiple mental health conditions.

“Many can’t find the help they need in their community, while others face months waiting for support while becoming more ill. Other young people are turned away from services because they’re told they’re not ill enough.

“So much of what we hear speaks of a system that is struggling to cope.

“Across the country, more young people than ever are struggling with their mental health, with record numbers in crisis and in need of urgent support. This is a youth mental health emergency which will continue to escalate without preventative action.

“We know professionals, from the NHS to school classrooms, are doing all they can, but we need more than sticking-plaster solutions.

“Every young person should be able to access the mental health support they need, when they need it. The Government must commit to providing early support hubs in every community for young people to get help and reduce waiting times.”

Stevie Goulding, senior manager for parents and carers services at Young Minds, said it can be hard to know when to be worried about a child’s mental health.

“Young people are adapting to lots of changes as they grow up, so it’s normal for them to express raw emotions and change moods quickly,” she said.

“But if your child is consistently struggling, for example if you see a sustained change in their behaviour, sleeping or eating patterns, or if they seem to be upset over a long period of time, it’s important to take it seriously.

“You know your child better than anybody else. It’s important to act on the warning signs if you start to feel concerned.”

People are urged to try and talk to their children but if things do not seem to be improving, they are encouraged to speak to their GP.

Ms Goulding said: “Every case is different, but we advise parents who are trying to get support for a child to be persistent and to be as clear as possible when dealing with professionals.

“Write a summary in bullet points outlining your child’s symptoms and behaviour, the time frames including when the problems began and at what point they escalated, the impact on the child and wider family and clarifying any risk or urgency.”

If children are already on a waiting list, then parents are urged to tell school as well as maintaining hobbies, routines and normal parenting to help keep the child grounded and feeling safe.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We’re continuing to invest in mental health services for children and young people with an additional £2.3 billion a year on overall mental health services by 2024.

“This investment means an additional 345,000 children and young people will be able to access NHS-funded mental health support, including through the vital mental health support teams we are rolling out to schools and colleges across the country.

“The mental health workforce also continues to grow to help cut waiting lists – one of this government’s top five priorities. In June 2023, we saw almost 10,100 more mental health staff working than the previous year.”