Lingo has been co-produced by a Young Champion and staff at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families as part of a 2018 coproduction project.

Click on the image below to view and download the PDF. 

The idea

"Some children and young people I have spoken to who have had difficulties with their mental health have said they sometimes feel the adult they are talking to does not understand what they are saying or no one understands how they feel. Similarly when speaking to parents and professionals, some have said they do not know the best way to talk to their child about their mental health. Even some professionals are unsure about how to engage in conversation about mental health. This made me reflect that there can be misunderstandings of language and potential barriers when talking about mental health." - Amy, Young Champion and Lingo creator

The process


The first half of Lingo was the survey to produce this booklet and provide insights into the experience of children and young people when they are talking about their mental health to adults. Similarly it was also to provide insights into the experience of adults regarding what approach they take and what they find challenging about children and young people talking to them about their mental health.

It was hoped that the insights would provide valuable information into whether there are any communication barriers between children and young people when talking about their mental health to adults. The insights would also gather whether there were any common or major themes.

Children and young people completed a survey with questions aimed towards them, with adults doing the same. The majority of adults who completed this survey were responding as parents or carers, though there was also representation from education and health professionals, counsellors, therapists and youth mental health workers.


The second half of Lingo was artwork that was done with the help of Young Producers at the National Gallery with the aim of showing how we express and communicate our mental health, feelings and emotions through non-verbal communication, but it also aimed to address stigma. The artwork was created by numerous children and young people who wanted to express their mental health, feelings and emotions through art. 

The findings

The Lingo project has helped us gain a better understanding of the worries and concerns young people have around talking about mental health, and what adults can do to support challenging conversations. Some key finding are:

Children and young people...

  • think the main reason that prevents them talking to an adult about their mental health is due to fear or worry about the adults reaction;
  • have concerns that adults will not understand what they are trying to say or understand the language they are using to talk about their mental health;
  • feel more comfortable talking to an adult about their mental health when the adult has the time to listen to them;
  • think adults could benefit from support in further understanding and further awareness of the issues and pressures that affect children and young people.

Adults and professionals...

  • the biggest difficulty they face when a young person is talking to them about mental health, is that they fear they might say the wrong thing or say something that could trigger further negative emotions and feelings;
  • having knowledge and awareness of what pressures young people face today would assist them in feeling more comfortable when a young person is talking to them about their mental health;
  • to have an effective conversation with young people about their mental health, it is important to know the young person as an individual.

Back to Get involved

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