Professional Resources

Low Mood

It is normal for everyone to have ups and downs in their mood. Mood can be affected by a range of issues, and it is common to feel low when things are not going well. Sometimes people worry that low mood means they are becoming depressed but that is often not the case. ‘Low’ feelings improve when the stress or worry that is causing it passes.

It is important to normalise when people feel low as being a part of life, and help young people develop coping strategies to manage down days. It is also important to be mindful of when additional support might be needed.

When someone is low they may feel; sad, anxious, worried, frustrated or angry. These feelings might be overwhelming for a few days but the person can usually distract themselves. They will mostly be able to manage day to day life and it will pass after a week or two.

When To Be Worried

The signs that low mood has shifted to depression, might be that the child or young person is really struggling to cope with day to day life. They may have lost interest in things they used to enjoy, be withdrawn and low in self worth. In school you might notice;

  • Lack of concentration, energy or excessive tiredness
  • Regular complaints of feeling unwell
  • Disagreements with peers and teachers – and social isolation.

These signs will be persistent and the child or young person’s attendance and studies are likely to suffer.

If you are concerned about any child being mentally unwell then advice should be sought – ideally with the young person’s consent. If you feel the child or young person is a risk to themselves or others you should seek safeguarding advice on your next steps.

Dive Deeper

In Professional Settings

Communication is the key to helping children and young person reflect on their thoughts and feelings. This can help professionals assess their wellbeing and plan the best way to support them.

If you are concerned about a young person’s mood or behaviour decide who is best placed to talk to them– it may be they have a particularly positive relationship with some professionals.

  • Use open questions - questions that don’t allow for just ‘yes / no’ answers.
  • Listen to their answers carefully and reflect back what you think they have said.
  • Use ‘feeling words; when you summarise what they have told you ‘It sounds to me like you are really sad your Gran is ill - and cross that your Mum won’t let you visit her.’
  • Think through some ‘actions’ they could try to help them feel better; ‘when you are feeling sad what do you think might help?’
  • Make a plan with the child/ young person about what you will both do next.

There are practical suggestions that can help with low mood;

  • Spend time with supportive family and friends.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Eat regularly and healthily & keep hydrated.

Establishing whether a child is struggling with low mood or depression is important and may not be immediately clear. Make plans to review how they are feeling. Help them to think where they might seek more support both in and out of their setting.



The CARE animation is a short animation for all setting professionals that recognises the importance of supporting children and young people’s mental health in their settings, and offers a simple principle for staff to remember; CARE. (Curious, Approachable, Refer, Empathy).  It is aimed at all professionals, including support staff and those who may not have direct contact with young people. The animation can be used in one of the following ways:

  1. On a staff training day
  2. In a staff briefing or team meeting
  3. Send the animation and resources out in a staff bulletin.

You can watch the CARE animation and download the accompanying guidance and poster at www.annafreud.org/careanimation.


'All Our Health' offer free, bite-sized e-learning sessions - to improve the knowledge, confidence and skills of health and care professionals in preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing. The sessions cover some of the biggest issues in public health including;

  • Childhood obesity 
  • Pollution
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

They contain signposting to trusted sources of helpful evidence, guidance and support to help professionals embed prevention in their everyday practice.

Shelf Help - Reading Well

  • Am I Depressed and what can I do About it? - Shirley Reynolds & Monika Parkinson.
  • Can I tell you about Depression? - Christopher Dowrick & Susan Martin.
  • I Had a Black Dog - Matthew Johnstone.
  • Mind Your Head - Juno Dawson.

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