By making simple changes to our lives, we can make a real difference to our mental health. Feeling good is worth investing in – and the best thing is that these simple tips won’t cost you much time or money.
Asking for help
You might not like asking for help. You may feel that you don’t want to burden other people. You worry about what they might think or that they could tell others.
In fact, people who care about you will want to help you.
You just have to ask.
Who can you ask for help?
- Your family – parents or carers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins
- Trusted friends – your own friends, or friends of the family, neighbours
- People you work with
- Professionals – your GP, a doctor or nurse, a social worker
- Charities such as ourselves, Off The Record
How to ask for help
Decide who is the best person to talk to. Who would you feel most comfortable talking to? Many of us prefer talking to family or friends, but you may prefer to talk to professionals, support groups, helplines or online discussion forums.
Pick your time and place. Choose a good time and somewhere you feel comfortable, so you can talk in a relaxed environment without interruption.
What outcome do you want? Do you simply want to be listened to? Would you like more practical or emotional support? Be clear what you want to achieve.
Make notes. Write down the things you want to say so you remember to include them in your conversation.
Explain how you feel and what support you would like. The other person will then know how to help you.
It may be difficult to talk about your feelings but “a problem shared is a problem halved”. You’ll probably feel better simply talking to someone. When you’re feeling down, it’s important that you are not struggling on your own. Just ask for some help.
How friends and family can help
You might feel like they won’t understand, but friends and family can surprise you. You would probably want to help people you love if they were struggling, so why wouldn’t they feel the same about you?
Some of the ways they can help:
- Spend time with you. Too much time on your own can make you feel worse. Just being around others is a simple way to feel more connected.
- Talking things through. If you are stressed or feeling low, they can provide emotional support.
- Notice changes in your mood. People who know you well will probably recognise when you are not feeling your best.
- Give practical support. Friends can do things like coming with you to a party you feel nervous about or helping you plan a route to get there.
- Join in with CBT. Cognitive behavioural therapy sometimes introduces coping strategies. Your friends and family can help you to come up with strategy ideas and support you with therapy homework.
How to open up to someone
Choosing to talk to someone about mental health problems is brave. And it’s worth it, because it’s the first step to feeling better. The best person might be someone who:
- you trust
- is easy to talk to
- is kind
- doesn’t judge
- is a good listener
- you know well
- has been through similar issues
5 tips for talking things through
- Pick a good time when neither of you is busy or distracted.
- Choose somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted
- Explain how you are feeling and what’s worrying you
- Ask for advice and support. Be clear about what they can do to help, like coming with you to the doctors, giving you space, or spending more time with you.
- Be clear about confidentiality. If you don’t want them to share what you’ve told them, say so.
If you feel you don’t have anybody to talk to, you could join an online forum where people are experiencing similar situations to you, contact a confidential service like Childline or the Samaritans, or contact us at Off The Record.
Believe in yourself
Most people will have low self-esteem at some point in their lives – 75% of young people have felt it at least once.
It can be caused by a number of things – comparing yourself to your friends, problems with family or at school or your health. Sometimes it passes on its own or you can take steps to help yourself feel better.
Tackling low self-esteem early can help prevent depression or anxiety developing. You can start to build your self-esteem today with these six steps.
Step 1: Understand why you focus on negatives
- What negative things do you think about yourself?
- When did you start thinking these things?
- What happened to make you think this way?
Step 2: Challenge the negative feelings
Find reasons why these negative things aren’t true. Include things that have happened that prove they aren’t true. Maybe the thing that caused those feelings has stopped.
Write down a list of these things to keep and bring out next time you feel low.
Step 3: Focus on the positive
Write down your best feature, the last time you received a compliment, the last time you did something for someone that made you feel good.
Step 4: Find good people
How do the people around you make you feel?
Spend more time with the ones who make you feel good and less with the ones who make you feel bad.
Step 5: Get Active
Think about doing something you enjoy. If you already have a hobby, do it more often. If you don’t, try something new. Only do hobbies you enjoy, don’t keep plugging away at something you don’t have to just because you think you have to.
Step 6: Set yourself some goals
Choose something you know you can already do and challenge yourself. Achievements are always positive.
Get help from your school nurse or GP if you have tried these steps and you still have negative feelings. They will be able to work with you on your own particular needs..
Smartphones and computers put the whole online world at our fingertips, but not always in a good way. Get support with peer pressure, cyberbullying and more.
Bullying is never OK, whether it happens at school, at home or on the internet. If you’re receiving nasty messages, people are posting unwanted things about you or you’re being harassed in any way online, it needs to be stopped.
The first thing you can do is block and report the people involved. You can also use the privacy settings on your social networks to limit what they can see on your profile.
You may also want to talk to someone about what’s happening. Bullying is serious, and even if it’s being done online, there may be ways to get it sorted out. That’s especially true if it’s people you know in real life, such as schoolmates.
Some people prefer talking online than face to face. You might find the idea of speaking to someone is a bit daunting, and that’s ok. There are ways of getting support online if you find it easier to type than to talk.
There are lots of online communities which might be able to provide you with support. But remember, not all the advice you get online is from experts, even if it comes from people who know what you are going through. Positive communities will never advise you to do anything harmful, or anything which makes you feel worse.
Don’t forget to look out for your mates too. If they’re behaving differently online, for example if they’re oversharing, posting lots more than usual, or suddenly not posting anything at all, it could be a sign that something’s up. A quick message can let them know you’re there for them if they want to talk.
Sharing, oversharing and your privacy
From sandwich pics to soul-searching poetry, we share a lot of our lives online. How much is too much? And what should you say if someone wants information you’re not ready to share?
Some things to remember:
- What you put online stays online. Even things you delete can be saved or screenshotted – including those Snapchat snaps meant for just one friend.
- Online strangers are still strangers. Forums and group chats can be a great way to connect over things you wouldn’t say face to face, but don’t feel pressured to share more than you feel comfortable with.
- It’s easy to over-share on social media sites, especially if you forget who can see your profile. You can use Facebook’s Friend settings to create lists so that only people you trust can see all your updates.
- Privacy is possible. Make sure you use social media site settings to protect your information. Don’t hesitate to block anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you come across content on social media which you find abusive, harmful or upsetting find out how to report it here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube
Young people take drugs for different reasons. Sometimes it’s to cope with abuse or family problems, to fit in with a group, or just to try something new. You may have been offered drugs or know others who use them. If drugs are part of your world, it’s important to know the facts, and where to go for help and advice.
Drugs and mental health
Drugs and mental health are linked in a few ways.
- Using drugs or alcohol can be a way to deal with difficult emotions like the pain of mental illness. Mental health problems that affect your judgement or cause risky behaviour could also make you more likely to take drugs.
- You could reach a point where you feel unable to cope without the drug and your life revolves around getting more of it, so that it’s in control of you. Addiction is often linked with mental illness.
- There’s a risk that drug use could make a mental health condition worse, or make someone more likely to develop mental illness. For example, there’s a link between cannabis use and paranoia, while other drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms can produce psychosis.
Where to get help and information
FRANK has lots of reliable information about drug use and where to find support.
Need someone to talk to? You can contact Childline by phone, online chat or email.