Mental Health

We all have mental health. Here’s how to take care of your mind and recognise when you, or your mates, might need some support.

Just like physical health, we have times when our mental health is good and times when it’s less good.

What is mental health?

Lots of us think mental health is just mental health problems. You might have heard of conditions like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder or remember celebs talking about their experiences. But we all have mental health. Just like physical health, we have times when our mental health is good and times when it’s less good. Sometimes you’ll feel sad, scared, stressed, anxious, worried or confused. These feelings are part of everyday life. They can be normal reactions to things going on around you. They don’t necessarily mean you have a mental health problem.

Ok, so what is a mental health problem?

Mental health problems affect your moods and the way you behave, think and react.

If you have thoughts, feelings and reactions that feel difficult for a long time and get in the way of how you want to live your life, you could have a mental health problem.

We don’t know why some people get mental health problems and some people don’t. It’s probably a combination of the way we are born, the way we are bought up and the experiences we have.

"I stopped going out with friends. I stopped enjoying life. [My mental health problem] kept me from being the person who I was,"

What kinds of mental health problems are there?

Doctors have grouped together certain feelings, thoughts and behaviours and given them names (diagnoses).

Getting a diagnosis can help you get the right treatment. Some people find that having a diagnosis helps them understand more about what’s going on for them.

You might have heard about:

Diagnoses aren’t everything. You could have a diagnosis but, right now, be able to manage your mental health and get on with your life.

You might not have a diagnosis but still find things very difficult. For example, you might:

  • feel sad or low for a long time
  • feel anxious, tense or worried about everything
  • feel very irritable or angry a lot
  • have panic attacks
  • have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
  • feel your moods change quickly or unpredictably
  • see or hear things that other people don’t
  • have suicidal thoughts
  • harm yourself or think about harming yourself
  • feel disconnected from your feelings or from people around you

Everyone’s experience is different and can change at different times.

I think I might have a mental health problem – what should I do?

Admitting that something isn’t right can feel scary – but there are people out there who want to help you. Here’s how to find them.

  • Call a helpline or find online support – some options are visit Childline, The Mix or Papyrus, and there are more helpful numbers on this page. Lots of people say this can be a good first step.
  • Talk to someone you trust – a friend, teacher, youth worker or someone in your family.
  • Visit your doctor. If you’re really nervous, ask a friend to go with you.

Mental health problems can be hard to talk about. Try writing things down to help you explain what’s going on for you.

“I just wanted to say never give up, find and talk to people who won’t judge you”

How can I look after myself?

Looking after your mental health doesn’t always mean you can avoid mental health problems. But there are things you can do to take care of your mind.

  • Eat well – try to eat a balanced diet.
  • Recharge - try to get enough sleep.
  • Move - take some exercise.
  • Watch those chemicals - try not to overdo the drink or drugs as they can affect your mental health.
  • Be social - make time to see friends and spend time with people you care about.
  • Have fun – whatever you love, it’s important to make time to do things you enjoy.
  • Find out more – reading, watching and listening to people talk about their mental health can inspire you and help you feel less alone.
  • Talk it out – share your worries with someone you trust.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.

This factfile was last updated on 4th April 2017

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