Mental health affects us all and is important to us all. It is about being able to enjoy friendships and personal relationships, being able to learn to cope with difficulties to the best of your ability, and believing in yourself.
We all go through difficult times, we feel anxious or angry or sad. Sometimes other people get us down. That’s part of life and it's important to learn how to cope. Sometimes these things can affect young people a lot, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and you forget your own important skills.
Some problems go away pretty quickly and we carry on, but if they are unidentified or ignored they tend to become bigger and cause even more distress, not only for young people, but for families, carers, and friends.
The problems that go on and on seem to take over and there’s a change in you, in your usual behaviour, your emotions or your thoughts. Sometimes anxiety and depression are severe and frequent enough to take over everyday life. People can then feel isolated, like no one gets it and that they can't cope.
Talk to someone
This could be anyone - a teacher, parent, friend or someone else. All that matters is they are someone you can open up to and trust.
Don't be alone
Although your room might feel like a safe place, surrounding yourself with friends or family will help with loneliness and sadness.
List all the things you like about yourself and the things people have told you they like about you.
Face your problems
Make a list of all your problems. Picture yourself coping with these problems. Think about how you can deal with them and what you can control.
Take a break
Do something you enjoy, whatever that is.
Exercise can make you feel happier and more confident. It doesn't matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that makes you feel good.
Eat three regular meals a day, and drink plenty of water. It's surprising how much eating well can affect your mood.
Volunteer for an organisation that interests or inspires you, or volunteer for our Trust. Helping others will make you feel valued.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
These cause more problems than they solve.
Sometimes the things we enjoy, like eating, are the things we reject when we are feeling bad about ourselves. If eating is a problem for you it is important you get help straight away. Talk to a friend, family member or anyone else you feel you can open up to. Alternatively, you could get in touch with your GP, school nurse or teacher.
Depression occurs when sad feelings do not go away, and when they overwhelm you. Remember you are not alone, depression is a common problem and can be overcome.
Talk to someone you trust and can help. Your GP, or sometimes school nurse, or teacher will be able to advise you about what help is available and to arrange a referral to your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). In the meantime, treat yourself well, think about how you would look after a friend who was down.
Stress and anxiety
Everyone feels stressed or worried sometimes. Sometimes feeling a little anxious or worried can help with motivation for school work, exams or other events. When life gets tough, there are things you can try to help yourself.
Make a list of all the things which are making you feel stressed, and write down all the things you could do to tackle each problem, step by step:
- Give yourself more time to get used to any changes at home or at school - it's natural to feel anxious sometimes
- Get support from friends and family - often, reassurance from another person can help to put your mind at rest
However, if you feel as though the stress is getting so bad you can't see a way out, it is important to talk to someone who you trust and can help. Your GP, school nurse or teacher will be able to advise you about what help is available and to arrange a referral to your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
For some people, self-harm seems to be the only way of dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, bullying, or any other problems. Self-harm includes cutting, burning, taking tablets or drinking alcohol. You may feel helpless and that self-injury makes you feel better. It may relieve the tension and make you feel more alive, or it may seem like a way to punish yourself when things have gone wrong.
These are very serious concerns and it is important to remember that what might make sense at the time is not a long term solution. Self-harm often happens away from other people as a private way of coping. Although it might be hard, speaking to someone you can trust can help with how you are feeling. Your GP can refer you to your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
It is important to talk to someone if:
- You feel so desperate you think about stopping school, running away or harming yourself
- You feel low, sad, tearful or that life isn't worth living
- You lose your appetite
- You find it difficult to sleep
- You have feelings and thoughts which are hard to talk about because you feel people might think you are odd
- You are avoiding seeing your friends, going out, or doing things you used to enjoy
- You are using drugs or alcohol to block out the feelings
- Your GP, school nurse or teacher can help - they may send you to see someone from your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)