Are you, or is someone you care for struggling with his or her mental health?

Well, you are not alone. Conservatively one in every six young people and one in every four adults in the UK suffer with mental health problems, which if not treated can severely impact their quality of life (both personal and professional).

There is an ongoing stigma (particularly in young people) in admitting to and seeking help with mental health issues. Add to this – many young people don’t recognise that they have mental health issues and assume their anxiety and depression – alongside negative and limiting thoughts – are a normal part of everyday life.

Whilst it is unrealistic to suppose a person can be happy 100% of the time, it is equally unreasonable to expect them to be unhappy for the majority of their time.

A little bit about you

First, let me say that there is nothing wrong with you. In fact you are amazing. Your body is dedicated to making sure that you can survive in even the most challenging of environments. You have developed patterns of thinking and behaviour at an early age, perhaps to avoid a dangerous or overly stressful situation. As time passes, those patterns can become outdated and no longer serve you. In fact, they can lead you on a downward spiral where living a ‘normal’ life seems like an improbable goal.

This is perfectly normal.

And

With the right strategies, you CAN have a normal life, experience pleasure and learn to cope with painful situations as they arise.

Do you need to speak with someone right now?

  • Childline – 0800 1111 (always open, the website includes online counselling)
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 85258 for a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
  • Hopeline UK – ​Call 0800 068 41 41​ ​if you are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Kooth – Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people Monday-Friday Noon-10pm and Saturday/Sunday 6-10 pm.
  • Mermaids – 0808 801 0400 – Supporting transgender youth, their families and professionals working with them. (Mon-Fri 9am-9pm).
  • The Samaritans – 116 123 / jo@samaritans.org (always open).
  • Shout – Text SHOUT to 85258 24/7 free text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere
  • The Samaritans – 116 123 / jo@samaritans.org (always open).
  • Mermaids – 0808 801 0400 – Supporting transgender youth, their families and professionals working with them. (Mon-Fri 9am-9pm)
  • Kooth – Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people Monday-Friday Noon-10pm and Saturday/Sunday 6-10 pm
  • Hopeline UK – ​Call 0800 068 41 41​ ​if you are having suicidal thoughts
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 85258 for a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
  • Young Minds Crisis Messenger – Text YM to 8525 for free, 24/7 crisis support*
  • Young Minds Parents Helpline – 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri from 9:30-4 pm)

Signs of depression and anxiety in young people

If you or someone you care for displays some of the following symptoms then you may have depression:

  • Constant low mood or feelings of sadness.
  • Persistently grumpy or irritable.
  • Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Persistent tired and exhausted feelings. 

For a more comprehensive list please visit the NHS website:

It is useful to spot the signs of anxiety in children and young people also. They may:

  • Experience difficulty in sleeping or eating.
  • Lack confidence to face simple ‘everyday’ challenges.
  • Be unwilling or afraid to try new things.
  • Become irritable, tearful or clingy.
  • Have angry outbursts.
  • Find it hard to concentrate.
  • Have negative and destructive thoughts.
  • Avoid social activities.

Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution we tend to find that the following strategies are helpful in improving mood in young people (and adults):

Human evolution has taught us that we are a social species and are not meant to exist in a vacuum. Try to connect with people you love and care about. By doing this the people around you feel valued and your relationships with them is strengthened. Often we hear people say:

“I don’t want to bother them with my problems.”

Or

“I’m strong enough to handle it myself.”

These are assumptions we often make. Strength comes from sharing problems with those who can make a difference and help you move forward.

Of course connecting with people does not have to be a deep and meaningful discussion about what is on your mind. Make time to watch a movie, discuss a book, go for a walk, play a game or if you can’t meet in person engage in a social activity over zoom – maybe even call a friend and say hi.

We are a habitual species. Many people tend to do the same activities day in day out. Internally we get a sense of safety from the familiar and avoid moving toward something new.

Take a close look at what you are doing throughout the day. Does it give you feelings of joy and happiness? Do you feel better connected with the world and more complete as a person?

If not, it may be time to listen to the old saying:

“Life begins outside the comfort zone.”

Think of all the activities that you can be doing either on your own or with someone else and try a few. These could be:

  • Doing a workout
  • Writing
  • Reading a book
  • Playing board games
  • Doing a sporting activity
  • Doing crafts
  • Learning a new skill

Because you are hardwired to gravitate towards the familiar you may find that the longer you spend considering doing something new the less chance you have in actually doing it.

Try this –

When you decide to do something, clench your fist, nod and get up to start doing the activity within 5 seconds of it entering your head. The more you do that, the closer you will get to achieve your goal.

When people, young and old, feel anxious or depressed it is not uncommon for them to shut the curtains, leave their living space a mess and retreat under the cover of darkness. It leaves a very clear message:

“Go away. Do not disturb!”

If we dig a little however, the message we are often avoiding is:

“No, I’m not happy but I fear the unknown. At least I am familiar with this dark and depressing cave that I have constructed.”

Sunshine provides you with vitamin D and just as important is the psychological benefit. By simply opening your curtains and letting the sunshine in you are sending a message to your psyche:

“Time for me to stand up, join the world and be the person I always wanted to be.”

Imagine running a car constantly, never look after it, never stop – just keep it running.

How long do you think that car would last?

Eventually the engine would overheat and many other problems would surface that hinder your cars performance till eventually your car stops working altogether.

Your body is just a machine and your machine relies on you taking time to rest for it to recharge and recuperate. If you don’t do this – well, see the above car example.

That doesn’t mean go to the gym every day, run a marathon or compete in Wimbledon. Being active means something different to everyone. It could be to go for a short walk, walk around your house more, dance or doing a 15 minute workout at home.

When you exercise you release endorphins known as ‘happy hormones’ which promote a general feeling of wellbeing and can leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the day ahead.

Do you ever eat a McDonalds or order a pizza and feel lethargic and tired afterward?

What we put in our body greatly affects our sleeping pattern and mood afterwards.

You wouldn’t put cheap oil and fuel in the tank of an expensive car, yet many of us are more than content to survive on cola, crisps, chocolate and burgers. It is nice, of course to occasionally eat take away food, but consider what foods you can eat that wont significantly increase your fat levels and will leave you with the right vitamins and minerals.

Put yourself first and treat yourself to foods that will improve your quality of life.

Now, this does not mean sitting cross-legged and chanting ‘ohmmm’ for eight hours a day (unless you want to do this of course).

Millions of people all over the world practice meditation. It helps alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety and can even calm panic attacks. There are many more benefits to meditation, which are covered in greater detail in our blog.

Enjoy.

If you would like any further advice or would like to book an appointment for a no obligation chat with one of our healthcare professionals, please click here.

Get in touch

If you are responsible for the emotional wellbeing of a child or young person, contact us now for a no-obligation consultation to see how we can best help.