How to help someone with ADHD

How to support someone with ADHD

How to support someone with ADHD 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 6 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that struggles with ADHD, as it usually affects many areas of the person’s life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand ADHD

It is a good idea to read as much information about ADHD as you can. Understanding ADHD and what it means can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on ADHD, you can view our pages on ADHD and getting help for ADHD.

Help them to feel supported

ADHD is a condition that can be misunderstood as a kind of deliberate misbehaviour. Therefore, people suffering from ADHD can easily feel as though they lack support. It is important to make sure that they feel supported. To do this, you can:

Show acceptance- Because of their challenges, they can feel like they are not good enough. Remind them that they are loved and valued no matter what.

Be patient- Be mindful about how you react to their behaviour. Avoid reacting whilst you feel frustrated. Take the time to think about responding in more a helpful way.

Separate the person from the disorder- This is very important. It is good to remember that the person is not the disorder. This will allow you to avoid feelings of frustration and resentment towards your loved one, because it is not their fault. This means that your loved one can also be free from feelings of guilt.   

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP or therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to search for a therapist

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Ask them what they need

They may or may not be able to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help them. This way you won’t have to figure it out on your own.

Encourage them to have a routine

Having a routine can help your loved one to have more structure in their daily life. Following a schedule and having a plan can make tasks much easier to complete for a person with ADHD. You might help them to:

  • Make a timetable

  • Make a checklist

  • Use colour codes for their schedule

  • Use creative reminders (e.g. fridge magnets, sticky notes, phone reminders)

  • Schedule free time

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your loved one of the things they are good at. You can point out their strengths and talents, as a way to remind them of the positive things in their life. This will uplift them and help them to appreciate their own strengths, despite struggling with ADHD.

Encourage them to stay physically active

Doing physical activities such as exercise might help your loved one to release excessive energy. Exercise can help them to focus their attention and energy in a healthy way. You could invite them out for any type of exercise that will get them moving (e.g. a walk, jog, group exercise class).

These activities will also help to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, which can fight off other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too.

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources 

To read general information about helping someone with a mental health problem on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.


To read information about living with ADHD on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

ADHD Foundation

To read advice for carers and parents of children with ADHD on the ADHD foundation website, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

getting help with ADHD 1

Getting help for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Getting help for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 1200 943 Team Mindsum
Listen to this article (07:24)
Last updated: 13 January 2021

This article covers:

– What types of therapies are involved?

– What types of professionals are involved?

– The journey of recovery from ADHD

What types of therapies are involved?

When treating ADHD, there are psychosocial types of therapy that are involved. This means that the therapy aims to focus on the child or young person and the influence of others around them. This can involve parent/guardian training programmes and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Parent/guardian training programmes
This a specialized programme that helps parents to improve on their parenting skills, as a way to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. There is a lot of research that supports parent training as an effective treatment for ADHD.  

The idea behind it is that parents hold the key to stop certain symptoms from continuing. This is because parents are the ones responsible for setting boundaries, ensuring discipline and giving appropriate love and affection.


The parents/guardians will learn more about ADHD and develop good strategies to help their child with ADHD. For example, they might be encouraged to make changes to their communication, the way they interact with their child and the home environment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
This is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviours. With CBT, children and young people learn the skills to reduce symptoms of ADHD and manage mental health problems. According to research, CBT can be helpful in reducing behavioural problems linked with ADHD.


The idea behind this is that some of the symptoms of ADHD can cause problems in the child or young person’s life such as poor social skills, concentration and self-control. Therefore, by learning the skills that will improve these areas, the symptoms of ADHD will be reduced.


The therapist will help the child or young person to talk about difficult feelings, as they also learn skills such as social skills, problem-solving and listening skills. This will help the child to develop helpful strategies to cope with ADHD and mental health problems.

What types of professionals are involved?

There are different professionals that may or may not be involved throughout the treatment process of ADHD. These might include counsellors, psychotherapists, educational psychologist, doctors/psychiatrist and social workers. These terms might be confusing, but the main difference is in the training that each of these professionals have received. 

In the UK, there is not much of a distinction made between counsellor or psychotherapist. Both of these professionals provide therapy. However, there are some slight differences between these two professional terms. These are outlined below.

Counsellors: Counselling is focused on helping people with what they need right now. Compared to psychotherapists, counsellors tend to have had a shorter training. There may be school-based counsellors available that children and young people can approach at their own school. Here at Mindsum, we have counsellors that are available to provide support.

Psychotherapists: Psychotherapy training tends to be longer. Psychotherapists can also give counselling but their approach to talk-therapy is more in-depth, exploring the history and causes of certain behaviours and emotional issues. The psychotherapist will help the child in this specialized way. Here at Mindsum, we have psychotherapists that are available to provide support.

Educational psychologist: Psychologists trained in the area of child development and learning might be involved in the treatment process of ADHD. They will help to support and improve the child’s learning experience, so that they can be successful at school.

Doctors: These are professionals that are trained in medicine. This will likely be the family GP, who might find it necessary to prescribe certain medications that might help the child or young person to cope better with ADHD.   

Psychiatrist: These are professionals that are also trained in medicine. However, they specialized in the field of psychiatry. They are able to provide consultation and medication for a wide range of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar affective disorder and so on.

Social workers: Workers trained in working with vulnerable individuals and the community might also be involved with the child or young person. They can provide or make arrangements for support. They may also work with law enforcement and other sectors to ensure that the child is safe from harm.

The journey of recovery from ADHD

The journey of recovery from ADHD can look different for each child or young person. Depending on the child’s age and severity of symptoms, the treatment might include therapy and/or parent training programmes. An example journey through cognitive behavioural therapy is discussed below.

This is an important phase, where the counsellor or psychotherapist will get a feel of what is going on with the child or young person. The therapist will also identify important background information. They will ask some questions, which will help to know what type of treatment will be most helpful. 

Therapy sessions
These sessions will take place with a time and regularity that suits the child or young person and their parents. An important aspect of the session is the relationship that the counsellor or psychotherapist will build with the child or young person. This will create a safe space that will encourage them to talk and be open with the therapist. Sessions might include different activities such as discussing, role-playing, games, and feedback. 

This can be an important part of treatment, especially when having CBT. This is because ADHD affects everyday situations in the child or young person’s life. So, homework tasks will really help the child or young person to develop a sense of achievement and mastery over their difficulties.

Progress and setbacks
When having treatment for ADHD, there will be progress and setbacks. Learning to improve self-control, behaviours and concentration can take a long time to change, so it is not realistic to expect progress without any setbacks. It is important to not get discouraged when setbacks happen. It is an opportunity for the child or young person, parents and the therapist to think about new ways to move forward.

Ending therapy
The counsellor or psychotherapist will eventually prepare the child, young person and parents for the end of therapy. This is a very important phase, because it is vital for the child or young person to become confident without relying too much on the professional. The end of therapy will take place once the child or young person has made a lot of progress. The child or young person will leave therapy with many skills that they can use without the help of the therapist.

Follow up
There might be an agreement with the counsellor or psychotherapist to have a follow-up meeting. This is to check how the child or young person is coping. If they are doing well, there will be no need for more support. But if they continue to have difficulties or any other issues, this will be an opportunity to have extra support.

List of useful resources 

To read our information on ADHD, you can click here to access the link

ADDIS information on ADHD
To read more information on ADHD and treatments involved, you can go to the ADDIS information services website. Click here to access the link.

Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy
The British Association for the Counselling Professions (BACP) have a useful document on different aspects of therapy. To read more, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

ADHD and mental health

ADHD & mental health

ADHD & mental health 2000 1333 Team Mindsum
Listen to this article (07:27)
Last updated: 4 January 2021

What is ADHD?

Causes of ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD

Treating ADHD

List of useful resources

How Mindsum can help?


What is ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects behaviour and causes the child or young person to be hyperactive, impulsive and/or inattentive. It is usually spotted in childhood.

Hyperactivity is not always the main sign of ADHD. In fact, there are three types of ADHD. This includes:

The inattentive type, where it is very difficult for the child to focus and pay attention to detail. They easily wander off and find it hard to finish tasks and to be organized.

The hyperactive and impulsive type, where it is very difficult for the child to remain calm. They are always on the go, running around, fidgeting, talking a lot and acting in the moment without thinking.

The combined type, where the child has symptoms of both types mentioned above.

It can be easy for children and young people with ADHD to feel out of control and misunderstood. Others who may not understand, can think that they are acting out on purpose. This can make them feel sad and alone and can affect their self-esteem. It is important to support children and young people with ADHD in managing the disorder and preventing problems with their mental health.

Causes of ADHD

The specific cause of ADHD is not known. It is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, as well as differences in the way the brain works. These are some factors to consider:

  • Runs in families

  • Problems at birth (e.g. low birth weight, preterm delivery)

  • Problems during pregnancy (e.g. smoking, alcohol consumption)

  • Lead exposure at a young age

  • Brain injury

  • Epilepsy

  • Iron deficiency

ADHD is diagnosed more often in boys than in girls. This is because boys tend to present with more disruptive symptoms and girls with more inattentive symptoms.  


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