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How to find mental health resources in Germany for children

Avalon Pernell
Avalon Pernell - [email protected]
How to find mental health resources in Germany for children
A child looks out the window. How can you get mental health help for children in Germany? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

As mental illnesses and behavioural disorders among children and teenagers continue to rise, it can be difficult for international parents in Germany to know where to find resources.


Whether it's school stress, adjusting to a move abroad, low self esteem, a personal crisis, hormonal changes or family issues, there are plenty of things that may make it hard for young people to cope with everyday life. 

A survey screening child anxiety disorders, found children in Germany ages 11 to 17 with symptoms of anxiety more than doubled over the course of the pandemic from under 15 percent before the pandemic to nearly a third of children surveyed exhibiting symptoms in January 2021. 

And social media has only added to the problem. According to a recent DAK study, media addiction among children and young people in Germany has nearly tripled from numbers before the pandemic. 

Girls and boys with heavy social media use reported more depressive symptoms, anxiety and a higher level of stress than children with less media usage. The parents of the affected children and young people also reported more dissatisfaction with communication within the families.

While Germany has a large capacity to care for mental healthcare patients, it can still be tough to find resources for children, especially if there's a language barrier. Here’s a guide to finding mental healthcare for children and youth in Germany:

Is mental health care covered by insurance in Germany?

Yes, Germany’s state health care system covers mental healthcare. Statutory health insurance currently covers nearly 90 percent of the population. This insurance gives residents access to consultation with a psychiatrist, therapy, in- and outpatient care, emergency mental health services and medication

READ ALSO: How to receive help for a mental health issue in Germany 

Where should you start?

Parents should start by reaching out to their children’s paediatrician or family doctor. After explaining how your child is doing, they will likely refer you to a child psychiatrist to further evaluate treatment options. Treatment can include prescribing mediation, talking therapy, or a combination of both. You can also directly set up a consultation with a mental health professional for your child.

Insurance type, public or private, can also impact the type and availability of services. Public insurance covers fewer practitioners, meaning you may have to cover the cost of therapy for your child upfront and wait to be reimbursed.  


Whether you have public or private insurance can impact the type and availability of services. Public insurance covers outpatient psychotherapy, but patients must meet specific requirements for coverage. Doctors can also write a letter that parents can submit to their health insurance to access up to six therapy sessions, with the possibility of extension

Families using public insurance may also have longer wait times. Nearly half of all patients must wait three to nine months before receiving care, according to Germany's Federal Chamber of Psychotherapy

A school girl at a Leipzig school. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

This problem is worsened because public insurance does not cover all mental health professionals. Practitioners must have a 'Kassensitz' licence to bill public health insurance. These licences are regulated by the government and are limited. The cost of this licence, along with the waiting time for it, is often a deterrent to some practitioners. 

Another option could be to talk to your child's school. Some schools employ social workers and psychologists who can screen and provide resources to children. These professionals can screen young people who exhibit symptoms of mental and emotional distress or hyperactivity in the classroom. They can also refer you to additional resources for more specialised treatment. 

What mental health resources are available?

As of 2022 there were more than 55,000 child and adolescent psychologists working across the country, according to data from the German society for psychiatry and psychotherapy, psychosomatics and neurology (DGPPN). The majority of these health professionals work in outpatient facilities, and the remaining 15 percent work in inpatient or day-care facilities. 

Germany has 274 mental health hospitals, 401 psychiatric units across general hospitals and 63 mental health outpatient facilities, according to the UN’s 2020 Mental Health Atlas. The country also started granting more specialist titles, including in child and adolescent psychiatry, in 2022.


Germany has also launched a helpline called “Nummer gegen Kummer” (number against grief) to support children facing mental health issues, whether it's to do with getting bad grades or dealing with unrequited love.

READ ALSO: 'Being honest helps': How expats have overcome loneliness

The free help line - which is accessed by calling 116 111 - is active Monday to Saturday from 2pm to 8pm daily. Children can anonymously speak with volunteer consultants who range from the elderly to students ages 16 to 21. It is important to note that this resource is intended for children comfortable speaking German at an elementary level.

Other resources to consider include:

  • Online directory Therapy Route features English-speaking psychologists and social workers across Germany
  • It’s Complicated connects users to in-person or virtual therapeutic care based on your language and insurance type
  • Online directory lists around 600 English-speaking therapists currently working in Berlin, 150 in Frankfurt, around 230 in Hamburg, and 240 in Munich



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