Bundesverband der Angehörigen psychisch erkrankter Menschen e.V.

"Weird Kids?" – A project to support families of children and adolescents with psychological problems

It is only possible to provide good care to children and adolescents with psychological problems if the families are involved right from the start and recognised with all their individual needs for support and information.

Although "parental work" is often an integral component of the therapies offered, relatives often still feel that there are deficits, particularly in the period before diagnosis is made.

"… I am absolutely desperate at the moment and my nerves are in shreds. I’m sitting here crying and looking for some help on the Internet... I am 37 years old, married, with two daughters aged 10 and 6. My problem: my daughter Leonie is driving me to distraction!!! She can’t get up in the mornings although she goes to bed early. She spends quarter of an hour on the loo, dawdles cleaning her teeth, brushing her hair and getting dressed ... After school she just sits listlessly in front of her homework, utterly unable to concentrate and half under the table and doesn’t know what she is supposed to be doing. ... What should I do??? Do you have any advice for me??? What is her problem??? How can I help her, but myself too, because I am constantly stressed …!" (plea from a mother taken from the Internet)

These problems are familiar to many parents. You may be asking yourself:

  • What should I look out for if my child is different?
  • Is this behaviour actually different or is it “perfectly normal”?
  • When and where is the boundary?
  • How can I distinguish between serious psychological conditions and adolescent development stages?
  • Who can I turn to?
  • Where can I find support?
  • What happens if I find out that my child could be mentally ill?
  • How do I deal with specialists when they are always sure they know better?
  • What can I do if my child doesn’t want treatment – when is compulsory treatment permissible?
  • How do I deal with my other children?

Information can help dispel uncertainty.

That’s why the German Federal Association of Relatives of the Mentally Ill (BApK) has studied the problems and needs of families with psychologically troubled children and adolescents and has developed a range of offers for these families.

The support of the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and the Federal Association of Company Health Insurance Funds (BKK Bundesverband) has facilitated this project.

In order to gain an initial overview of the needs of affected families, an online survey of parents was carried out in conjunction with the University of Marburg.

Here you can find an evaluation of the survey.

In conjunction with Martin Baierl, experienced therapist for children and adolescents and textbook author, the pamphlet "Weird Kids?" was created. This pamphlet offers affected parents an initial guide to mental disorders in childhood and adolescence, treatment options and possible sources of help and support. [more]

The information pamphlet has also been translated into Turkish and Russian.
[ to Turkish translation]   [to Russian translation]

Other casualties of a young person’s psychological problems are always their siblings, whose distress is often insufficiently considered. The pamphlet "What’s the Matter with Philip?" has been created in an age-appropriate design especially for them. [more]

We have compiled detailed information on some common mental illnesses of childhood and adolescence which are also available to download. [more]

For parents who would like further information we have prepared a comprehensive list with

Recommendations for further reading

and lists of links to

Support programmes

  • Self-help programmes,
  • Information and advice portals,
  • Regional support programmes and
  • General advice portals for children, adolescents and parents, which can also be approached in crisis situations.

Both the recommendations for further reading and the lists of links contain explanatory notes and have been compiled with the greatest of care. Nevertheless we must point out the following:

  1. Information from the Internet and books cannot replace diagnosis and treatment by a doctor or therapist; it can however be used as an important source of initial information and as an additional support.
  2. We cannot accept any responsibility for the content of external websites. Should you come across questionable, unreliable or inaccurate content on such websites, please inform us of this so that we can remove the link. 
    [ send message]

And one more tip:

Particularly in the field of mental illness there are unfortunately a great many websites and forums with questionable or dangerous content. For eating disorders in particular there are non-public forums in which sufferers can converse about their conditions and for instance encourage each other in their conviction not to accept help. If at all possible you should find out whether your children are active in such forums.