Maudsley Charity, King’s College London and NHS Maudsley Hospital launch ‘Families Under Pressure’

Animated parenting tips for struggling households

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) King’s College London, South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust and Maudsley Charity have worked together to create a series of films to help families struggling under the pandemic.

‘Families Under Pressure’ is a series of twelve short films offering parenting tips featuring the recognisable voices of a host of well-known parents including Olivia Colman, Rob Brydon, Holly Willoughby, Danny Dyer, Sharon Horgan, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Romesh Ranganathan, Shappi Khorsandi, Alex Jones, David Harewood, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Sandi Toksvig.

The tips are based on decades of research from the UK’s leading experts and rooted in the experience of NHS teams working with families and feedback from parents, and are available free on a dedicated website, along with informative resources, to provide parents and carers with tips on how to respond when children play up.

IoPPN, SLaM and the Maudsley Charity worked with top creative agency TOAD London and animators Esther Lalanne, Aysha Tengiz, Caitlin McCarthy, Giulia Frixione, Helena Kampen, Jocie Juritz, Phoebe Halstead and Angie Phillips at Arc Studios, and Lily Shaul to turn the tips into short films.

This comes after interim results from the King’s College London RAMP Study, funded by King’s Together Rapid COVID-19 call, found 70% of parents with children under the age of 16 are reporting an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke and collaborators developed the first eight tips, which were originally intended to support families dealing with pressures of ADHD and other behavioural challenges but are relevant for families facing the current challenges too.

Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at King’s College London, explained: ‘We are hearing that many families are struggling with restrictions. This comes as no surprise as research shows that bored and worried children are more likely to play up and cause disruption, and frustrated parents can over-react to these challenges. Very quickly, these sorts of behaviours can escalate and lead to the breakdown of relationships and exacerbation of problems.’

He continued: ‘The idea for Families Under Pressure came when I was thinking about how my poor old mum might have coped with me in this situation, as I was quite a handful as a child. What advice would she have found helpful?’

To help parents support children with emotional symptoms, tips nine to twelve were developed by the National & Specialist CAMHS Trauma, Anxiety and Depression Clinic team at NHS Maudsley Hospital including Professor Andrea DaneseDr Patrick SmithDr Jessica RichardsonDr Zoe MaidenDr Sarah Miles; and part of the evidence base includes research by IoPPN at King’s College London. They are based on evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles for the treatment of anxiety and depression in young people and were released during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Professor Andrea Danese, Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the IoPPN commented: ‘My colleagues at the Maudsley National & Specialist CAMHS Clinic for Trauma, Anxiety, and Depression and I have been concerned that children are experiencing increased levels of emotional symptoms in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and are also struggling to access support and services because of the lockdown. In response to these concerns, we have prepared a set of short animations with practical tips that parents can use to help children with emotional symptoms.’

The episodes provide advice on:

  • TIP 1: Keeping positive and motivated  Academy Awardwinning actor Olivia Colman explains the importance of looking after yourself and staying connected with others, to ensure you look after and stay connected to those you love  
  • TIP 2: Making sure everyone knows what’s expected of them  Actor and comedian Sharon Horgan explains how to introduce simple rules that can be applied to everyone in the household. 
  • TIP 3: Building your child’s self-confidence and trust in you Actor and presenter Danny Dyer talks through advice on how to ensure your children know they are valued.  
  • TIP 4: Getting your child to follow instructions  Comedian and actor Rob Brydon provides advice on ensuring your child listens when you ask them to do something.  
  • TIP 5: Promoting better behaviour – Athlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill offers advice on building good behaviour through rewards.  
  • TIP 6: How to limit conflict  TV presenter Holly Willoughby explains how to implement a plan that will help avoid situations that can result in conflict.  
  • TIP 7: Keeping calm when your kids act up – Comedian Romesh Ranganathan shows parents how to take a moment to collect their thoughts when things start to erupt. 
  • TIP 8: Using sanctions carefully – Comedian and author Shappi Khorsandi explains how to deliver sanctions carefully, calmly and consistently.  
  • TIP 9: How to communicate better with your child – Television presenter Alex Jones provides advice on active listening with your child, how to address misinformation and the importance of staying calm whilst discussing with your child.
  • TIP 10: Helping your child cope with anxiety – Actor David Harewood explains how to reduce your child’s unhelpful thoughts and behaviours when they’re anxious to limit their worry.
  • TIP 11: Helping your child manage negative feelings – Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh talks through a calming toolkit for your child and explains how to encourage children to reflect on their emotions.
  • TIP 12: How to boost positive emotions – Broadcaster and comedian Sandi Toksvig discusses the importance of parents being kind to themselves and building new routines when old ones are lost.


Chief Executive of Maudsley Charity, Rebecca Gray, saidFamilies Under Pressure brings advice from some of the UK’s leading clinical and research experts on parenting with brilliant creative partners and some of the nation’s best-loved parents. We know that many families are feeling the pressure at the moment, and these resources connect to a wider ambition we have as a charity to improve the mental health of all children and young people. 

Bruce Clark, Clinical Director Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said in support of the project:  

As mental health professionals, we are committed to supporting young people and their families, who we know are looking for advice and support at the moment. Parenting plays a vital role in developing resilience and good mental health in young people, and it’s vital that families have access to the right information and resources in order to do this, particularly during times of crisis. The films and website provide families with useful and practical advice that can be easily implemented at home to help support the new challenges we are all facing.’  

King’s College London, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Maudsley Charity have a long history of working in partnership. Together they are planning the ground-breaking new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People that will be a pioneering centre of excellence, bringing together world-leading clinical and research expertise to prevent and treat mental illness.   

‘Families Under Pressure’ is funded by Maudsley Charity and the first eight tips received funding from National Institute for Health Research Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. Tips one to eight are based on ‘Pointers on parenting under pressure (POP-UP); Evidence-based support for families getting through difficult times’. Edmund Sonuga-Barke PhD FMedSci FBA (King’s College London) with Margaret Thompson MD PhD, Jana Kreppner PhD, Hanna Kovshoff PhD, Catherine Thompson MSc and Sam Cortese MD PhD (University of Southampton), David Daley PhD (University of Nottingham) and Johnny Downs MD PhD (King’s College London).



Notes to editor: 

For further information please contact:  

Louise Pratt, Head of Communications, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London Tel: +44 7850 919020  

Olivia Lerche, Deputy Head of Media and Communications (Acting)South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust   020 3228 2963 

Serena Rianjongdee, Communications and Engagement Officer, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre Tel +44(0)207 848 2137 

From Tuesday 12 May series of short films can be viewed at which also provides additional advice and tips for parents.  

For viewing before the embargo lifts, please contact the press team to request access to sample videos.  

Website and videos available from Monday 

*Office for National Statistics: Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain: 30 April 2020  


King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience 

King’s College London is one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2018/19) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 31,000 students, including more than 12,800 postgraduates, from some 150 countries worldwide.  The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London is the premier centre for mental health and related neurosciences research in Europe. It produces more highly cited publications in psychiatry and mental health than any other university in the world. World-leading research from the IoPPN has made, and continues to make, an impact on how we understand, prevent and treat mental illness and other conditions that affect the brain. / 


South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust  

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust provides the widest range of NHS mental health services in the UK.  A staff of 4,800 staff serves a local population of 1.3 million people with more than 230 services including inpatient wards, outpatient and community services. Inpatient care is provided for approximately 3,900 people each year with more than 67,000 patients treated in the community in South London. 50 specialist services support children and adults across the UK including perinatal services, eating disorders, psychosis and autism. 


Maudsley Charity  

The Maudsley Charity works in partnership with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London to promote positive change in the world of mental health.  The charity supports innovation, research and service improvement, working with patients and families, clinical care teams, researchers and community organisations with a common goal of improving mental health.  Maudsley Charity is supporting patients and staff to ensure hospital and community services continue to offer the best possible support to people experiencing mental illness throughout the coronavirus crisis, including support for children at home who are feeling anxious and  ways to support families to deal with the long term impact of the crisis. 


The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR: 

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care 
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research 
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future 
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services 
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy 

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.  In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.  This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care  


The short films have been produced by TOAD London and illustrated by Esther Lalanne (Tips 1 & 3), Aysha Tengiz (Tips 2 & 4)Caitlin McCarthy (Tips 5 & 6) and Giulia Frixione (Tips 7 & 8)