The level of psychiatric prescribing in children and adolescents is increasing; however, rates of adherence in this group of patients range from only 34–54%. The possible consequences of untreated psychiatric problems include longer duration of the illness, increased severity of symptoms, higher relapse rates, greater risk of suicidal behaviour, academic difficulties and increased family conflict. Prescribers are often faced with difficulty if the parent or carer is not in agreement with the use of medication. This parental disagreement has implications for medication concordance and the relationship between clinicians, young people and their families. For prescribers, understanding parental and young people's attitudes towards medication and their experiences of mental health services is central to patient-centred care.