Foster care
Carer guide
Mental health
Depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety


When someone feels sad and down for a period of time that is longer than a couple of weeks they may be depressed. They may be experiencing

  • feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • loss of interest in what they usually enjoy
  • a lack of energy
  • changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • feeling anxious
  • crying a lot for no reason

Treatment includes health and lifestyle changes, counselling and medication.

You can find more information about depression by visiting these websites.


There are many forms of anxiety disorders. Some people have sudden, unexplained panic attacks. Some people experience phobias like agoraphobia (fear of being in an open space). Other people become anxious about something in particular.

Many children in care will experience anxiety, often in a significant way. This can be a normal reaction to grief, loss and trauma and should not always be pathologised.

People who experience high levels of anxiety can learn to manage and reduce their anxiety levels.

What to do if a child is depressed or anxious

  • Try to identify their triggers and how those triggers affect them
  • Talk to and listen to what they say without judging, reacting or trying to cheer them up
  • Acknowledge their worries and help them find practical ways to solve the problem
  • Model positive coping skills
  • Encourage them to eat well, avoid skipping meals, keep active and do things they enjoy
  • Give them time to practice new routines, set small goals and introduce challenges gradually
  • Tell them what they do well and give praise when they have a go or attempt new things
  • Don’t force them to confront deeply held fears
  • Discourage avoidance, such as not attending school – but proceed at the child’s pace
  • Prepare them for major changes
  • Ask for help from your care team or the child’s doctor, paediatrician, therapist or school counsellor, when you need it

You can find more information about anxiety by visiting these websites.

Want to become a carer?
To become a foster carer your ability to care and nurture a child is what really matters.
To learn more, visit the LWB foster care website