Are You Struggling with Your Mental Health? A Guide to Teenage Depression

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Bright Heart

Mental health is often forgotten and overlooked, but is key for our well being as humans. We look at mental health for teens, symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts and where to find help.

Are You Struggling with Your Mental Health?
A Guide to Teenage Depression

According to the Mental Health Foundation, an estimated 20% of adolescents experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Furthermore, 50% of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14 and an alarming 75% by the age of 24.

What exactly does this mean for teenagers today?

Mental health issues are a lot more widespread than you may think in people of your age group. In fact, while you may feel alone in your struggles, it is highly likely that someone you know or someone in your peer group is also struggling with their mental health.

Emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression are the most common types of mental health issues in young people, with many teens struggling with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

The good news is that more help is available for teens suffering from mental health issues than ever before. Therefore, whether you are experiencing mental health issues for the first time or have struggled with your mental wellbeing for many years, it is never too late to get the help you need.

Within the below guide, you will find out everything you need to know about teenage mental health issues, as well as the resources available to help you to overcome your problems.

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The journey to better mental health begins with a single step

Ready to start feeling better?

All you have to do is keep reading, and you will have already taken a step in the right direction towards improving your mental health.

What causes mental health disorders in teens?

Have you ever sat and thought, “why me?”. If yes, you are far from alone. Although depression and anxiety can cause you to feel completely isolated, teen mental health issues have been on the rise for many years now.

There are many different reasons why you may have started to feel depressed or anxious, including:

Whatever the reason, you need to know that you can overcome these feelings. You just need to get the right help.

mental health
Although depression and anxiety can lead to you feeling alone, there are many who experience this.

What are the symptoms of depression in teens?

While it is completely normal for you to experience periods of intense highs and lows as a teenager – remember all those pesky hormones you have floating around – it is important that you can recognise the difference between feeling low and being depressed.

The most common signs of depression include:

don't give up
Remember that you matter. Don't give up.

What to do if you are feeling suicidal

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you may be feeling alone, confused, and scared. While you may think that there is no way out of the problem you are experiencing or don’t feel that life will ever get better, you should know that it can and will.

These feelings are temporary.

There are many other young people who have felt the same way as you before and have come out the other side of this difficult time, happier and healthier.

If you are feeling suicidal, the best thing you can do is reach out to someone. This could be a family member, a friend, or a mental health charity that specialises in teen mental health.

Again, there are many reasons why you may be feeling suicidal, including:

However, it is important to know that all of the above issues can be worked through with the right help. Even if you do not have the support of your family or friends, there are online resources and mental health services that you can turn to – details of which we will go into below.

support
Help is available. Give yourself a chance to receive it.

How to get help with your mental health

If you are ready to get the help you need to overcome your mental health struggles, then there are many free resources that you can utilise.

Below we will talk you through each of these so that you can make the right decision for your mental health and overall wellbeing.

YoungMinds is a mental health charity that provides young people with the tools they need to look after their mental health. Their website is full of helpful advice and information on what you can do if you are struggling with how you feel.

You can use the YoungMinds Textline for free, 24/7, if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. Simply text YM to 85258. Texts can be anonymous.

Stem4 is a national charity that promotes positive mental health in teenagers and those who support them, such as their families and carers. This service is predominantly digital and includes mental health apps and education programmes.

This charity offers help and support on many teen mental health issues, including self-harm, anxiety, and depression.

If you are under 19, you can contact Childline for help, advice, or just someone to talk to. This service is completely confidential, and you can choose to call, chat online, or email about any problems you are experiencing.

Childline can also provide a BLS interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

Although this charity is not specifically aimed at young people, they are always on hand if you need someone to talk to. The Samaritans are open 24/7 and can be contacted on 116 123 for free, or you can choose to send an email or even write a letter.

This charity also has a self-help app that can help you keep track of how you are feeling and offer coping techniques to help you manage your mental health.

Papyrus is a national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. They provide confidential support and advice to young people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

There are many resources on the Papyrus website, including a live chat feature, wellbeing apps, LGBTQIA support, and where to go to get help.

If you need immediate help during a mental health crisis, you can use the NHS urgent mental health helpline. This offers 24-hour advice and support for you when you need it the most.

the dawning light of hope
The dawn light shines after the dark night. Help is available.

Mental health techniques for teens

You need to make sure that you care for your mental health in the same way that you do your physical wellbeing.

Whether you are struggling with a mental health issue or not, the below mental health techniques for teens can help you to keep your mental health on track.

If you think you are dealing with a mental health issue or you are struggling with your feelings, you need to be brave and ask for help. While you may feel afraid to speak up, the sooner you get the help you need, the sooner you will start to feel better.

Although you may think you thrive on late nights and junk food, you need to make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle as a growing teen. This includes getting enough sleep, taking part in physical activities, and eating a nutritionally balanced diet.

While this may feel strange at first, it can be a good idea to say positive affirmations first thing in the morning. Phrases such as “I am smart”, “I am a worthwhile person” and “I have control over my life” can all empower you to make positive life choices.

These can also act as a reminder of your self-worth when you are struggling with your mental health.

Many different coping skills can help you to manage your mental health. For some, this may be listening to music, while for others, it could be drawing a picture or going for a run. Try to find your happy place and use this to boost your mental health.

It can be almost impossible to be positive yourself if negative influences surround you. Instead, try to only bring positive people into your life. People who make you feel good and support the positive choices you make.

Support for parents

If you think your teen is struggling with their mental health, or are displaying suicidal tendencies, there are also many resources and support services for you.

Family Lives is a great charity that specialises in supporting families, and YoungMinds provides support for parents as well as teens and young adults.

If you think your child is misusing drugs, FRANK, the drugs charity, can offer you help and support around the clock.

An appeal from Bright Heart

At Bright Heart, unfortunately, we recently witnessed first-hand the results of a failure to gain the necessary help for a mental health challenge. In addition, in our many interactions with parents and students, we have noticed an unfortunate increase in mental health concerns since the pandemic.

We know the first step is never easy, but we strongly encourage you to seek immediate professional help if you or your child has any mental health concerns.

Contact us

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss anything in this article or would like to find out more about our nurturing approach to tuition, which accounts for SEMH needs and mental health.


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Your child’s mental health during times of stress

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We bring attention to some warning signs relating to mental health. This is particular important at this time.    

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

In time of stress, mental health is increasingly important. We consider some warning signs.

Your child’s mental health during times of stress

According to The Guardian, fewer young people are receiving help with mental health issues. This is despite levels of anxiety and depression having risen sharply in the under 18 age group. 

Reasons include mental health services being suspended or restricted and a lack of in-person engagement. The closure of schools – a first point of referral for distressed children – has certainly not helped.  

an unhappy girl doing homework
Learning and engagement is strongly affected by one's mental and emotional state.

Lockdowns have negatively impacted many children

Almost one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions and school closures are dealing with feelings of anxiety, with many at risk of lasting psychological distress, including depression. In recent surveys by Save the Children of over 6000 children and parents in the US, Germany, Finland, Spain and the UK, up to 65 per cent of the children struggled with boredom and feelings of isolation.”  

Reliefweb International, 7 May 2020

The pandemic has turned the lives of millions of children and young people upside down. Many young people are finding it hard to cope with isolation, a loss of routine, anxiety about the future, a disruption to their education, and in some cases difficult or traumatic experiences at home.”

Emma Thomas of YoungMinds, a leading UK not-for-profit championing mental health for young people

boy with anxiety
We all have times when we need to talk to someone. This is especially true for children.

The impact of COVID-19 on children's mental health

While it has been a challenging time for parents, children have felt the effects of social distancing and isolation with far-reaching effects. The British Psychological Society, together with more than thirty other organisations, have written an open letter to the Government. This letter was urging them to limit the long-term impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health.

What should parents consider for their child's mental health?

Previously, we covered the importance of planning an active day in our homeschooling tips for parents and the importance of physical activity. Eating regular meals, getting sufficient sleep and limiting screen time go together with this.

Good mental health is a much-needed foundation for learning.

However, you may find your children require additional support.  

Some warning signs to be aware of in your child’s behaviour that could indicate impaired mental health can be remembered by using the acronym MASK:

M – Mood

They get irritable, argumentative or aggressive towards you. They may blame you if things go wrong. They can also become withdrawn.

A – Actions

They may experience changes in eating and sleeping patterns. Look out for any signs of bullying, over- or under-eating or self-harm.

S – Social

They suddenly appear especially bored, lonely or withdrawn or they start to get into trouble. Losing interest in friends and other things they liked to do or loss of interest and motivation with schoolwork are common warning signs.

K - Keep talking

Refusing or being reluctant to talk about how they’re feeling is common. But keep listening and ask how they are feeling. When they do open up, make sure they know there’s someone there who really cares.

Please note that these symptoms are by no means diagnostic in nature. Professional advice is always preferable, especially if you have any doubt as to what may be causing the change in your child’s behaviour.

Attention and active listening go a long way in making sure your child does not slip under the radar.

Where can I get extra help for my child's mental health?

Fortunately, there is plenty of help at hand and we recommend reaching out to the team at YoungMinds where you will find many resources and professional support available.

Other sources of support include:

The NSPCC and the Mental Health Foundation.

We are also here to help with any learning issues relating to anxiety and social and emotional mental health. Feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced directors to discuss your needs. We offer a free consultation and a free trial lesson to help build rapport.


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5 ways to support the mental health of a child with SEN

supporting mental health in a child

Research shows that 1 in 5 young people aged 16-24 experience anxiety or depression at any one time.   

Bright Heart

Bright Heart

As awareness of mental health grows we look at how you can support your child

5 ways to support the mental health of a child with SEN

Mental health may seem to be somewhat of a buzz word these days, but research shows that 1 in 5 young people aged 16-24 experience a common mental illness such as anxiety or depression at any one time1.

Children affected by learning challenges are:

supporting mental health in a child
Taking action to talk with someone is always better done sooner rather than later

How can you as a parent support your child with Special Educational Needs?

1. Talk to your child about mental health

One of the best places to start is by talking about mental health to your child. You may discuss feelings and help give your child the language he or she needs to describe their emotions. You may simply ask questions to ascertain what your child is experiencing – are they anxious? Are they having self-esteem issues? Open dialogue will go a long way to making your child feel heard and supported. Make conversations about mental health a normal part of life – anywhere is a good place to talk; in the car, walking the dog or cooking together. Ask open-ended questions and show empathy rather than trying to offer immediate solutions.

2. Give your child your full attention

​When listening, make sure you’re fully present and that your child can feel that they have your undivided attention. Nobody likes to be half-listened to. Ignore or avoid distractions. Maintain eye contact and focus on your child.

3. Familiarise yourself with the signs of poor mental health

Keep in mind that all children are different, but some of the common signs of mental health problems in children include:

Look for clues about feelings: listen to the child’s words, tone of voice and body language.

4. If you’re worried about your child’s mental health, get help

Speak to your GP

As a first course of action, we suggest reaching out to your family doctor. He or she will be able to make a clinical assessment and to listen if your child is willing to talk to them. Your GP will also be able to make specialist referrals for therapy for example, where necessary to assist your child in managing their mental health.

Get in touch with your child’s teacher and/or tutors

Schools and teachers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of supporting students’ mental health. It is vital that they are made aware that your child is struggling and they will be able to keep an eye on them during this time and provide much-needed additional support and encouragement.

Reach out to Support Organisations

If you feel that you‘d like additional support, get in touch with one of the following organisations that specialise in this field:

5. Take care of your own mental health

This cannot be overemphasized. Children live what they learn and as challenging as it may often be for us as parents, it is imperative that we model healthy habits and show our children what good emotional regulation and self-care looks like. If you feel stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed, make a point of implementing a self-care routine that will assist in providing you with more balanced living. You can also schedule time with a counsellor or therapist to provide you with perspective. Never underestimate the world of good that feeling heard can do for you (and your child).

References

  1. McManus et al., 2009, according to a report by the Centre for Mental Health 2018, centreformentalhealth.org.uk
  2. Emerson & Hatton, 2007, according to a report by the Centre for Mental Health 2018, centreformentalhealth.org.uk
  3. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

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