When we’re in pain or feel sick, most of us are all too happy to take the time to care for ourselves. We might see a doctor, take medicine or simply spend a day in bed to rest. So why do we not take the time to care for our mental health?
Physical health isn’t the only thing to negatively affect our lives. It’s been found that when our mental health is suffering, many other areas of our life can be affected, too. This World Mental Health Day, we want to share the importance of caring for mental health, and some ways in which you can do this.
Who Is Affected?
The numbers show that 12.8% of 5-19 year olds have a diagnosable mental health problem, but 20% of those young people with mental health problems wait more than 6 months to see a specialist. Fortunately, there are things you can do if you are experiencing mental health problems, even if you’re waiting to see a specialist.
One of the most important things to know is that you are not alone. It may feel like it at times, but 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems at any point in their lives – that’s a quarter of us! In the last couple of years we’ve seen an increase in celebrities talking about their own struggles with mental health – it really can affect anyone – from entertainers, to bloggers, to athletes, and even royalty.
Maybe things are difficult at home or in your friendships, perhaps exam stress is getting on top of you, or you could be experiencing a mental health condition. Any of these (and others!) are completely valid reasons to be struggling with how you’re feeling – and talking about each of them is just as important as the others.
Talking about how you’re feeling can be difficult, but it’s really important that you do, and there are people out there who will listen to you. Whether it’s your friends, family, teachers, doctors, or even charities like Childline – by talking, you share the load of how you are feeling and you might even find that the person you speak to has had a similar experience.
Take Time For Yourself!
Life is busy! School, friendships, relationships, family, sports, clubs… the list of things going on in our lives seems to be endless. That’s why it’s really important to take time for yourself – it could be something creative, something active, or even just taking time to relax before getting some sleep. Different things work for different people and that’s okay. All of the above are ways you can look after your mental health, so take some time and find something that helps you. You could also ask your friends and family for some ideas – ask them what they do to relax; they might suggest something that you’d never thought to try and it could become your new favourite way to wind down when you’re struggling.
Seeking support and taking time for yourself are really important things to do, but when things are tough it can be hard to stay productive and keep on top of things like schoolwork.
Set yourself small, realistic goals.
Big, long-term goals can seem out of reach when things are hard, but they don’t have to be. Break your bigger goals down into smaller, shorter-term goals. This can help you to keep moving towards where you want to be. As well as continuing to work towards your bigger goals, having small achievable things in the short-term can help you feel more successful! These goals can be anything – read for 10 minutes each day, drink more water, practice an instrument twice a week, revise Maths for 5 minutes each day, choose a healthy snack over fast food… choose things that work for you, and you can always build them up over time.
Plan things you have to do, including breaks!
Similarly, if you’re coming up to your exams and know you need to study it can be as stressful to study as it is to take the time to take a break. Plan your revision or schoolwork and allow yourself planned breaks. Knowing that you are allowed to take a break and that you will go back to studying can help to make sure that you can relax while having a break – without stressing that you’re not studying.
For example, Get My Grades breaks content into granular concepts, with Learn pages taking an average of 15 minutes to read and Revise assignments starting from 5 minutes. You could plan to revise a new concept and test yourself for 5 minutes, then take a short break before you get back to work.
Talk to your teachers, tutors, and parents.
Adults are a great source of support and that is done best when you are honest. Let them know if you’re finding things hard, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to them before your work is late and let them know that you haven’t just forgotten to do it, or that you couldn’t be bothered. They might even be able to give you a bit of extra support – but you won’t know that unless you ask.
If you take one thing from this blog, it is important to know that what you’re going through or feeling is valid, and you deserve to get support. You can do so on your own terms, in a way that works for you, and doing so can ease all manner of worries and difficulties.
The following are two charity run organisations with helplines and online chat services where you can go to talk if you need some support:
Childline – run by the NSPCC, Childline is available 24/7 (by phone, online chat or email) to support young people up to the age of 19.
The Mix – group and individual help that’s available in different forms, at different times of the week (including a 24/7 crisis messenger) for young people under 25.
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