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Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

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 eight 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

 

In the Academy we know that young people often need additional support.  We are supported in school by School Mental Health Specialists in MAST as well as Mental Health Practitioners in the NHS With Me in Mind Team.  You might also find the following websites helpful: 

 

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Anxiety and stress:

Anxiety

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. 

Stress

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 eg be angry, tearful, sad, withdrawn, self-harm.  

Panic Attacks

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.

You might also find the following websites helpful:

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Bereavement and Loss

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. 

As well as bereavement, we all experience various losses during our lives. For children this might include things like friends moving away or transition to a new school.  It is common to experience feelings of grief during these times too.

Below are some specific websites which might be useful to you as a parent or carer (right click on logo):

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Depression and Low Mood

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.

The following websites might be useful:

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Eating Problems

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 range of reasons why someone may develop and 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 ie skipping meals, dieting and self-induced vomiting but is less severe.  However, someone with disordered eating would also benefit from help and support.

The following websites might be useful:

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SYEDA The South Yorkshire Eating Disorder Association

 


Self-Harm

People may self-harm for lots of different reasons eg bullying, friendship issues, problems at home, 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. 

As a parent or carer it can be extremely upsetting if your child self-harms.  You might therefore find the following resources helpful (right click on logo):

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Sleep

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 eg 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:

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Suicidal thoughts

Many young people have suicidal thoughts at some point, often when they feel sad and alone and can’t imagine feeling any better. For a parent or carer this is naturally very concerning.  However, the most important thing is to recognise that talking about it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to carry it out, but that they do need help and support. The following websites might be useful:

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Papyrus, prevention of young suicide