Mental health and wellbeing


Young person by the seaThere’s been a lot of talk about young people and mental health during the pandemic. You may have heard reports in the news or on social media.

When looking for information and advice about mental health it can be hard to know where to look or who to trust.

On this page you can find information and practical advice about mental health that we hope you’ll find helpful.

You’ll also find information about where to get help and support if you need help with your mental health right now.

What is mental health?

We all have mental health. Some people describe it as emotional health or wellbeing.

One way of describing mental health is how you might be feeling on any particular day.

Most people will have days when they feel good. This might mean enjoying being with your family or talking to friends, being motivated to get on with schoolwork or do chores around the house.

There will also be days when we feel a bit worried, upset or unmotivated to do schoolwork or see friends.

There will be days when we feel a mixture of both. These feelings are all part of our mental health. Most people experience this mixture of feelings.

What does it mean to have poor mental health?

We all have good days and bad days. When it gets difficult to do everyday things or things you usually enjoy, or you don’t feel OK most of the time, you may need some help with your mental health.

It’s OK to be anxious or worried about things. This is usual. You might get worried about an exam or trying something new for the first time.

But if you feel worried all the time, have problems sleeping or always thinking something bad is going to happen, this might be the time to look for some help.

Where can I get help?

Knowing when to ask for help and where to go for help can be a difficult. But, it’s important to remember that the first step to getting help can often start by talking to someone you trust.

These are some of the people you can ask for help.

  • your family
  • a trusted friend
  • someone at school (teacher, teaching assistant)
  • your doctor
  • a social worker
  • a youth worker or another trusted adult.

If you feel you can’t talk to anyone you know, there are other trusted ways to get help. You can contact some great online services to get support from trained people who care and want to help. Check out the Get Help Now information below to find out more.

Sometimes you need information to help you understand some of things you’re feeling or experiencing. Young Minds is a trusted website to get some detailed information about feelings and symptoms.

Who might be able to help?

There are lots of different kinds of health workers who can help you with your mental health and general well being. Here are some of the main ones.

  • GP. A doctor working in general practice. They can refer you to CAMHS for specialist support (see below).
  • Occupational therapist. A person who works with people on everyday activities that are good for health and well being. They also make assessments and create treatment plans.
  • Therapists. Therapists help people to find ways to express how they are feeling. This may be through talking, art, music, drama or dance. People working in this way may be called an Art Therapist, Drama Therapist, Music Therapist.
  • Counsellor. A counsellor helps people to understand and manage their feelings by talking.
  • Child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS)
    This service is made up of people that offer care and support for mental health. People working in CAMHS include Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and family therapists.
  • Clinical psychologist. A psychologist trained to understand how people feel and behave. They can be trained to deliver psychological treatments, for example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
  • Psychiatric nurse. A nurse who specialises in caring for people who need support with their mental health.
  • Psychiatrist. A doctor trained to diagnose and treat mental health conditions. They can prescribe medication. 

 

How can I look after my mental health?

Here are some ways we can help take care of our mental health:

Sleep

Sleep is really important for your physical and mental health. Generally young people need around 8-10 hours sleep a night.

Finding it hard to get to sleep and waking occasionally during the night affect most people. But if you struggle to sleep most of the time this will affect how you feel and how well you manage during the day.

Here are some tips on how to help yourself have a good nights sleep.

  • Set yourself a routine. Try and go to bed around the same time each night and get up around the same time each morning.
  • Switch off your laptop/ tablet and leave your phone in another room or put it on silent so you’re not disturbed during the night.
  • Do something relaxing such as taking a bath or shower.
  • If you can try and make your bedroom dark, quiet and warm
  • If you’re using your bedroom to study in, try to tidy away your things before going to bed.

If your sleep problems continue for a long time and you’ve tried the tips above, you might want to get some help from your doctor.

Relaxation

We all need to take some time to relax and rest. Life can be very busy with school or work and our body and mind needs a chance to take a break.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Sport. This can be a team sport, like football or netball, or doing something by yourself such as, running or yoga.
  • Watching TV
  • Reading a book
  • Doing a puzzle, crossword, suduku
  • Mindful colouring books
  • Crafting (sewing, model making, woodwork)
  • Painting, drawing, pottery
  • Singing
  • Playing an instrument

Sharing worries and problems

Sharing a worry or a problem can help the way we feel. When you are worried it can be difficult to stop thinking about the problem,and this can sometimes make the problem seem bigger and more difficult.

Talking to others about worries and problems can be hard, but if you can share your worries with someone you trust – a family member, a friend or perhaps a teacher – you might find it helps you feel better.

Drugs and alcohol

Drugs and alcohol can affect your mental health in different ways. Some people use them to deal with difficult feelings and emotions, however they generally make difficult emotions worse.

Sometimes your judgement is affected by taking drugs or alcohol. This means you may do or say something you later regret. You might do something risky and put yourself in danger.

Using some drugs and alcohol can also make a mental health condition worse. You can find information about this on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.

You can help yourself by knowing the facts about drugs and alcohol if you are thinking about using them.

Finding the positives

Everyone has negative feelings at some time. You might be disappointed you didn’t get in the netball team or that you didn’t do well in a maths test.

Negative feelings become a problem when you constantly feel that everything you do isn’t good enough. If you feel like this a lot of the time it might help to talk to someone you trust

Finding the positives in things can really help your mood and your confidence. It’s often easier to see the negatives, so it’s worth trying hard at finding the positives.

Some things you could try:

  • do something you enjoy
  • listen to uplifting music
  • make a list of the things you get done in a day.
  • remember the last time you helped someone
  • think of a compliment you’ve had recently
  • write down 1 or more good things that happened today (no matter how small)
  • set yourself some goals

Managing stress

We all experience stress. It’s a natural response and can help us get things done – like working towards a homework deadline or feeling stressed before you perform in a concert or a play.

However, too much stress over a long time can be bad for your physical and mental health.

It’s good to recognise when you feel stressed. Physical signs of stress include feeling sick, stomach pains, sweating, dizziness, a racing heart.

Having trouble sleeping or not being able to stop yourself worrying are also signs of being stressed.

These are things that can help:

  • Making lists of things you need to do and tick them off when you’ve achieved them. This can help you feel more in control.
  • Do some exercise. This can help take your mind off the worry, even if it’s for a short time. Physical exercise also has a positive effect on your emotions.
  • Mindfulness exercises can help you focus on the moment and not on what you need to get done.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques that you can use when you find yourself becoming stressed or overwhelmed.

Managing social media

Social media is a great for helping us stay in touch with friends and keeping up to date with interests. But it can affect how you feel. If you find that looking at images or following trends makes you feel upset or angry, then it’s worth thinking about what you look at or follow.

There’s lots of information and advice on keeping safe and how to deal with online bullying.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Choose the social media that suits your needs best. You don’t need to use everything available!
  • Limit the time you spend on screen before you go to bed
  • Unfollow feeds that you find upsetting, or you know affect your mood.
  • Take a moment to think before you post something. How would this post make me feel?

Self-care and on-going support

Self care is what we can do to help look after our mental health. There are lots of activities and techniques that can help you manage stress and anxiety. The Anna Freud Centre has put together a really useful resource that describes and explains the different things you can try.

If you are a student you may be able to get help with your mental health through your school, college or university. Try to talk to someone you trust about any services that may be available. This could be a school counsellor, or a college or university wellbeing service. The hardest thing can be making the first step to get the help you need.

Get Help Now

Childline is a national charity offering information and support. They can be contacted by calling, emailing or using their 1-2-1 online chat. You can call between 9am -3.30pm and use 1-2-1 chat between 9am and 10.30pm.

You can text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis.

Kooth offers a free, safe and anonymous support for young people. You need to create an account to access information and to contact a counsellor. They have counsellors available midday to 10pm Monday to Friday, and 6pm-10pm at weekends.

You can get urgent help from the Devon Partnership NHS Trust from the 24/7 helpline.

What if I can't ask others for help?

Managing difficult feelings and worries alone can be very difficult, but if you can’t ask for help right now there are some things you can do that may help.

  • Remember you are not alone in how you are feeling. Other people also feel anxious, worried, low in mood or stressed.
  • How you are feeling is valid. This means it is OK not to feel good, positive or happy even if you think you should.
  • It is normal to find it difficult to explain why or how you are feeling. Sometimes with time we can work out for ourselves what might be making us feel a particular way.
  • There is some really good online information that  explains feelings and symptoms. It also offers suggestions about things you can do to help yourself.
  • Some people find it helpful to read or hear about other peoples experiences and how they got through difficult things. You can read about other young people’s experiences on the Young Minds blog.

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Page created March 2021 Page due for review March 2023