Our services for young people are accessible by self-referral, but don’t let that stop you from picking up the phone if you are worried about someone you know.

Although we will need at some stage to speak to any young person accessing us, it’s great if you can help them make the call if they’re feeling anxious about it. But equally you may just want some information about what we offer, or advice about where to turn.

There’s lots of info in our Learn About section, but sometimes we know there’s no substitute for talking to someone.

So if you’re still worried you can either call us free on 0808 808 9120 or email confidential@otrbristol.org.uk

We also run monthly drop-in sessions for parents, carers and grandparents to come in and chat to us.

In these relaxed and informal sessions, we discuss:

What is mental health?
How is mental health different for teenagers?
How do we look after our mental health?

This session is for any parent/carer/grandparent that is looking after a teenager who is struggling with their mental health. They do not need to currently be accessing any OTR services.

BRISTOL: Last Wednesday of every month @ Inspiration Works, Pennywell Road, Bristol BS5 0TJ – 6.30-8pm 

SOUTH GLOS: First Wednesday of every month @ The Pop Inn Cafe, West Walk, Yate BS37 4AX – 5.30-7pm


+ Can I refer a young person myself without you speaking to them?

No, sorry! We work on a self-referral basis here which means that we encourage young people to be proactive about accessing the support they need for themselves. We like to make sure that each young person that uses the service understands why they are coming and what they can expect from us, which is why we offer an initial session with a Youth Support Worker before any ongoing support begins.

If you are a professional and have a complex referral or are working with a young person you think is at risk, your best bet is just to give us a call to talk things through. We generally don’t need or ask for paper referrals, but in some cases where things are complicated or a young person is at risk, it may be necessary to help keep them safe.


+ How do I talk to my son/daughter about making contact with OTR?

Many parents/carers and professionals often ask how they should approach the subject of contacting us with a young person. First, we would recommend that you find a relaxed time to have the conversation. It might also be useful to suggest they first take a look at our website to find out more about us. It is important to be mindful that for some young people this will feel like a huge step and so be sure to go at their pace. It may take some time for them to build up the confidence to contact us, but experience has shown that if a young person feels forced or coerced into contacting us this can (and usually does) negatively impact on their ability to engage in and benefit from our support.

+ How long will it take to get an appointment?

The first step for a young person is to meet with or speak to a Youth Support Worker. This is a one-to-one session that will help the young person to identify the appropriate support for them at OTR. Their support worker will offer some short term support while the young person waits for whichever service they have chosen, and is there to answer any questions or solve any problems they may have accessing us.

Inevitably in a busy service there is a wait to access things like counselling or art therapy, and we understand how difficult that can be. The wait varies depending on how busy the service is and how flexible the young person can be about when they come for sessions.

+ My son/daughter is really nervous about coming to OTR. Can I come into the sessions with them?

It can be nerve-wracking for some young people and of course we want to make the experience as comfortable as possible for them. When a young person first attends OTR for a session with a support worker you are welcome to sit in for the first part of the session, or the entire session if the young person is feeling particularly nervous or wants you there. It is preferable that we meet one-to-one with a young person for at least part of the session if possible.

If a young person is under 13 we will arrange for the first meeting with a support worker to be with you in attendance.

For young people who are accessing therapy of some kind the same principle applies. Depending on the wishes of a young person and the work being done, parents/carers and professionals may on ocassion come into the sessions to support the process.

+ Will I have a chance to talk to the counsellor about what has happened in the sessions?

No, sorry! We totally understand that you may want to find out how things are going. However, the sessions are confidential and our workers have a duty to respect a young person’s privacy. This is also an important part of the work being effective. A young person may choose to share with you later what they have spoken about, but that is totally their choice. Other than those times where you may be involved in the work, the only time in which we will break confidentiality and share information with you is when we are concerned for the safety of the young person.

Here’s a useful link for parents/carers!