Mental Health

About 1 in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health problems. They can include depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and self-harm, and are often a direct response to what is happening in your life. As well as looking after your physical health, it is just as important to look after you mental health. By focusing on your emotional wellbeing and happiness, you will be far more likely to be able to cope with whatever life throws at you.

If you have a good relationship with your parents or carers, try talking to them about how you are feeling. Negative feelings usually pass and it always helps to talk.

There are lots of sources of help outside your family environment. If you are at school, a teacher, school nurse, school counsellor or educational psychologist may be able to help. Otherwise, you can go to your GP. There are some great organisations you can contact confidentially who provide specific help to young people such as: Papyrus, Samaritans and the Young Minds Crisis Messenger.

Expand the boxes below for more information or try our Self-Help Tool for more specific and detailed help.

We all have mental health.

An important video from the Anna Freud organisation.

Depression is when you feel low, sad or experience ongoing negative feelings all the time. For some people, this may be a reaction to things that are happening in their life (e.g. bullying, problems in relationships, or abuse) or for some people, there may be no obvious reason to feel this way but they still feel really down. Common symptoms of being depressed include:

• being moody and irritable - easily upset, ‘ratty’ or tearful

• becoming withdrawn - avoiding friends, family and regular activities

• feeling guilty or bad, being self-critical and self-blaming - hating yourself

• feeling unhappy, miserable and lonely a lot of the time

• finding it difficult to concentrate

• not looking after your personal appearance

• not interested in eating, eating little or too much

Depression is a common issue for lots of people and is easily treatable if help is sought. GP’s can help or refer to people who can. There are also a lot of organisations out there who can help if you are low or depressed such as Young Minds or Mind.

A major cause of low mood or depression is bereavement. There are many organisations that can help you deal with the loss of a loved one, such as Hope Again and Child Bereavement UK.

If you’re feeling hopeless or been thinking there’s no point to life it’s worth speaking to the Samaritans. They are there to listen and won’t judge you or tell you what to do.

Anxiety is our natural warning system. Humans have evolved to feel anxiety (that feeling of panic and fear) to warn us of danger and be prepared to either escape or deal with the situation – a response called ‘fight or flight’.

There are many times when people feel anxious (school exams, relationships or after doing something we regret) but this usually calms down and disappears after a while. Anxiety can become a problem when we feel it all the time without obvious reason or when it feels so strong, it stops us going about our daily lives.

If you’re really worried about the level of anxiety you’re suffering or it’s preventing you from getting on with your life then it may be worth speaking with someone. If you’re at school, you could talk to a school nurse or counsellor. You can also make an appointment with your GP who can refer you to specialists and/or give medication to help with anxiety.

Self-harm is a term for when someone intentionally harms themselves. Different people can harm themselves in different ways but common examples would include cutting, burning, drug overdose, hair pulling or hitting.

For many people, self-harm is a way of coping with negative thoughts and feelings, or a way of expressing that they are in distress. Feedback from people who have self-harmed often talk about it as having been a way of controlling how they feel or releasing pent up emotions they were otherwise unable to process. Others have described it as a way of punishing themselves due to feelings of guilt or shame. Each person affected will have their own unique story or reason why they are self-harming but it is always a symptom of underlying issues going unaddressed.

The thought of suicide amongst young people is unfortunately common and is usually linked to depression, feelings of inadequacy, and that life is not worth living. Whilst most people who think about ending their life don’t ever take any action to act upon these feelings, suicidal thoughts are recognised as risk factors for people going on to self-harm or carry out more explicit suicidal behaviour.

It’s rarely obvious that someone is having thoughts of ending their lives. Often, these come about as a way of dealing with thoughts and feeling they are unable to cope with and see ending their life as the solution. The earlier someone can talk about how they’re feeling, the quicker support can be found.

If you’re worried about suicidal thoughts of your own, you’re not alone and help is available. More information and advice can be accessed via our self-help tool. The Samaritans offer a free and confidential service. They are there to listen and won’t judge you or tell you what to do.

If you’re worried that someone is in immediate danger of ending their life, call 999 and stay with them until help arrives. If they are distressed and talking about suicide, you can help by taking them to A&E, getting them to their GP or supporting them to speak with the Samaritans or Papyrus.

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