Everyone has mental health, just like they have physical health. When mental health is good, people are more likely to feel happy, relaxed and confident as well as feeling good about themselves. However, everyone has bad days when they might feel a bit down or something happens in their life which upsets and worries them. It is just as important to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. If someone has a low mood for a period of time, then it might be useful for them to talk to someone who will listen, take their concerns seriously, help them to manage their feelings and explore coping strategies.
Children and young people can also experience poor mental health - it isn’t just an adult issue:
- One in ten children aged between 5 and 16 years has a mental health problem, and many continue to have mental health problems into adulthood.
- Half of those with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14, and three quarters before their mid-20’s.
Some warning signs might include:
- Changes in appearance including personal hygiene and weight loss.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Uncharacteristic and/or secretive behaviour.
- Problems with peer groups.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Self-harming behaviour.
- Talk about suicide and/or death.
- Changes in mood including prolonged anxiety, stress, fearfulness, being easily prone to tearfulness and/or tendency to overreact.
- Deterioration of attention span and/or restlessness.
Resources for Parents:
A good resource for parents/carers which gives advice on children’s mental health and guidance as to whether certain behaviours are ‘normal’ for adolescents or whether they are concerning.
Gives advice for parents who are worried about their child including details of how to get emergency help.
There is some information below about common issues which affect young people’s mental health and websites which might give you more information if you are worried about your child.
Anger is a normal human emotion. Everyone has a right to feel angry, particularly when they feel unfairly treated, or feel as though someone else has been unfairly treated. However, people sometimes get angry and don’t know why; often it is because other things in their life are getting on top of them. When this happens, people often react in ways they wouldn’t normally and regret afterwards, especially if this means that a friendship is broken or a relationship spoiled. They might physically hit someone, shout and lose their temper, break things and/or lose control. If your child is regularly getting angry then you might want to talk to us about putting some support in place.
ANXIETY, STRESS AND PANIC ATTACKS
Most people worry from time to time or feel afraid of being in certain situations; a common situation for young people is worry about exams. This is usually short-lived and passes when the problem is fixed or the feared event over with. However, some people feel nervous or panicky for long periods of time and this can affect day-to-day life. They might then have trouble sleeping, feel tired and irritable, have difficulty concentrating, feel faint, and experience stomach cramps.
People feel stressed when they feel under pressure. For many people, a small amount of pressure can be good as it motivates them to complete tasks, undertake new ventures, revise for exams etc. However, when people feel under too much pressure they may then feel they are unable to cope. Everyone reacts to stress differently and has different levels of being able to cope. When someone isn’t coping they might display a range of emotions and behaviours e.g. be angry, tearful, sad, withdrawn, self-harm.
Extreme anxiety might result in panic attacks. These can be unpredictable and last for up to 10 minutes. When someone has a panic attack they might have difficulty in breathing and feel out of control. However, panic attacks are not life threatening and the feelings do calm down, but they are a sign that it might be useful to get some help.
Everyone feels differently when someone close to them dies. How someone feels may depend on the relationship they had with that person when they were still alive and whether it was expected or sudden. There are a range of emotions which someone may have, including guilt and anger. Often people worry that there is something wrong with them if they don’t cry; this is perfectly normal. Below are some specific websites which might be useful to you as a parent/carer.
A lot of people talk about feeling depressed when they are down in the dumps but a person with depression will have felt this way for a long period of time. They are likely to feel sad, lonely, and/or tearful as well as lacking in energy. They may have little motivation to attend school, join in with social events, complete homework etc. There are lots of reasons why people become depressed including problematic family relationships, school pressures, friendship issues; there are also lots of different ways depression might affect someone including eating and sleeping patterns, self-harm, feeling suicidal. If someone feels this way it is important that they get help.
DISORDERED EATING, EATING DISORDERS AND BODY IMAGE
There are times when most people feel uncomfortable in their own bodies. However, eating disorders are serious mental health conditions and need specialist treatment. There are a range of reasons why someone may develop an eating disorder but it is usually linked to situations that are making them feel unhappy and/or negative body image. Negative body image occurs when someone perceives their size and shape as being different to how it actually is. As a result, they may feel ashamed, self-conscious and anxious.
Disordered eating can also take many forms and resemble an eating disorder in many ways i.e. skipping meals, dieting and self-induced vomiting, but is less severe. However, someone with disordered eating would also benefit from help and support. Specific websites which might be helpful are:
People may self-harm for lots of different reasons e.g. bullying, friendship issues, problems at home and stresses at school. It might be that these issues cause someone to have unbearable and overwhelming feelings and they may start to self-harm in an effort to cope, or to express how they are feeling. People self-harm in different ways including taking drugs, smoking and drinking alcohol, but they might also hurt themselves by cutting, burning and taking tablets. Often people worry that others will think they are attention seeking and won’t be taken seriously so they try to keep the self-harm secret when in actual fact, there is a lot of support available.
Specific websites include:
Everyone has problems sleeping from time to time. Sometimes it can be hard to fall asleep; at other times people find themselves waking up in the night and can’t always fall back to sleep. If someone has sleep problems for a long period of time then it can start to affect day-to-day life. It can affect mood, concentration and affect relationships with friends and family. Sleep problems can be caused by poor sleep routines, including not relaxing properly before going to bed, but can also be due to problematic mental health e.g. feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. It can be good to get help with these problems as this may have the added benefit of improving sleep. More information on sleep can be found at:
When someone has struggled with their mental health for a long period of time they may start to feel there is no point carrying on. Sometimes people say this to express how unhappy they are feeling; other people think seriously about suicide. If someone feels this way they should always get help and support, or let someone know how they are feeling so they can get support on their behalf. Specific website support can be found at:
Provides support for young people who are wanting to help their friends