Children and mental health; using the BETLS observation tool to gather and document information and observations about a child or young person


When thinking about where a child or young person is on the mental health continuum, it’s important to consider their age as a very wide range of emotions and behaviours are expected at different stages of development. Remember, though, it’s not your role to diagnose or make conclusions about a child or young person’s state of mental health. However, you can use the BELTS observation tool as a template for gathering and documenting information and observations about a child or young person.

BETLS is an acronym for behaviour, emotions, thoughts, learning and social relationships. Observations should:

  • focus only on what you actually see and hear, rather than what you think about a child or young person’s behaviours, emotions and thoughts
  • take note of when, where and how often a child or young person is showing a particular behaviour or emotion
  • notice what makes the child or young person’s experience worse and what makes it better
  • record how long the behaviour or emotion occurs (for example, if you’re concerned about a child or young person’s outbursts, take note of how long they last)
  • notice what happens before and after the behaviour that is a concern
  • be recorded by different people and in different situations during the day.

The Wishing Well foundation

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.

Support the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW.  Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:

  • Funding availability
  • The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
  • The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
  • Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person

The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information:



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