Mental health is about the way we think and feel. It can also be called ‘emotional wellbeing’. How we feel about ourselves and the world around us can change depending on what’s going on at the time in the same way our physical health changes. Just because someone has experienced a mental health problem at some stage in their life, it doesn’t mean they will always have this problem. Sometimes problems can develop when someone experiences something upsetting; like bullying or a stressful family life. Sometimes problems appear out of the blue. It’s not the person’s fault and it’s nothing for them to be ashamed about. There are lots of celebrities who have spoken publicly about having mental health problems including Lady Gaga, Stephen Fry, Johnny Depp, David Beckham, Russell Brand and JK Rowling.
There is still a lot of misunderstanding about mental health, with newspapers and television often wrongly portraying people with mental health problems negatively. Fortunately, this type of stigma is being addressed by high profile campaigns such as Time to Change.
We all feel stressed out at times, especially when we feel like we’re under pressure and things are getting on top of us. Having a lot of stress for a long time can become difficult to manage and lead to us feeling very anxious.
Sometimes it seems like we have little or no control over what we think and how we feel. But, there are things that you can do that will help you to feel better.
Scientists have discovered that exercise makes you feel good. It can be anything from football, skating or running to yoga and trampolining – whatever you enjoy!
Talk to others
Talk to other people about things that are bothering you and how you are feeling. Children have told us that, although it can be difficult at first, talking with a good friend, family member or a grown-up you trust can really help.
Sharing what’s bothering you can help to make it feel more manageable. If you feel that the problems you’re having are too big for you to deal with by yourself you may want to get in contact with your GP, someone from school/college or someone else you trust. If you’re finding it hard to talk to people you know about how you feel, contact ChildLine, The Samaritans, or Mindful.
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service website http://www.camhsandme.org
It has a Cope-ometer to help younger children understand the link between stresses and mental health – but it applies to all of us!
- Have a look at ChildLine’s short video about depression for young people
- Check out the Thinkuknow guide to internet safety
Take time to chill out and relax
People find different things help them relax – it could be having a bath, watching a funny film, drawing, reading or going for a walk. Try different things and see what works for you.
Regular relaxation is beneficial for your mental health. If you make a regular time each day to practice some of the techniques below you will get better and better at relaxation and notice your day-to-day stress levels are lower. You will also become able to use relaxation at the times you need them most.
Try these relaxation techniques from Youthspace:
Get plenty of sleep
Try to go to bed at a similar time each night and get up at a similar time each morning. Avoid using computers or playing on things like iPads before bed – the light they make can keep your brain awake even after you stop playing.
Improve your self-esteem
Self-esteem is how you think and feel about yourself. Having healthy self-esteem makes it easier to cope with life’s ups and downs. If you have low self-esteem, the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself tend to be negative. This can make you more prone to mental health problems.
Try these sites for some different ways to boost your self-esteem:
- Mental Health Foundation: wellbeing and positive thinking podcast
- Young Minds: top tips on how to boost self-esteem
If you are finding it hard to look after your mental health and need some help, talk to a grown-up you trust or call ChildLine on 0800 1111.
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