Child fightThe Centre for Mental Health has published a briefing for child health professional aimed at supporting parents of the 5% of children aged between five and 10 who have behavioural problems.

A further 10-15% have sub-threshold issues, and boys are twice as likely than girls to be affected. Such children are more likely to be excluded from school, leave without any qualifications, become teenage parents, experience adult mental health issues - including suicide - and are 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

Aimed at those aged up to 11, the CMH guide includes advice on recognising the signs of behavioural problems, what can be done, engaging parents and referring a child. There is also a section on identifying high-risk families - the signs of severe problems according to age and maturity (outbursts and tantrums, swearing, lying, stealing, destruction of property and ulimately assault, violence, robbery and drug taking.

Midwives, health visitors and school nurses are in a perfect position to identify at-risk children and facilitate access to the right support. As well as guidance on when to intervene, engaging parents, there is a list of questions to help professionals know if referral to parenting programmes is needed, what to do if one is not available in their area, key messages that can encourage parents to take up offers of referral and steps to getting more specialist support.

To download the guide, visit www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/pdfs/parenting_briefing_healthvisitors.pdf