The adolescent years, confusing, usually a huge blur of school work and stress and in most cases usually the beginning of mental health issues. There is nobody I know who could prepare you for this part in life and as I’m coming to the end of it I thought I’d share as much as I can with the person reading this
I’m Quinn, I’m 17, disabled, an only child and I experienced some trauma in my earlier teen years. I’m not the most experienced at giving advice, but I’ve got a step by step guide and a few pointers from personal experiences to get you started on the right path.
(Disclaimer: My advice probably won’t help everyone if this is making you feel worse then please stop reading)
Getting help when you think you need it
Let’s start by thinking about what you’re struggling with. Trying to decipher what you’re struggling with may be unclear and forcing these thoughts into your head may also be painful and tiring. Just getting a vague idea of what you’re going through is a good way to start and it’s often only once you start to get help that everything becomes clear. It can be good to try and work out if you’re struggling with your mood, anxiety or something else.
Remember you are able to mix these options to get a network of help that’s tailored to you.
Firstly, it’s important that you talk to someone that can help you – be this a teacher, parent or professional. While it is really good to talk to your friends about these things, they will often not have the tools to be able to help you – however, you might find it useful to talk to a friend who can support you when having these conversations with a responsible adult.
There are many text/calling helplines that are available to you. At this age, websites like the Childline can help, which is not only for the little ones. Childline also has a variety of articles about some really tough topics, such as suicidal thoughts. However, if you think what you need is something a bit more and a bit more complex, the Mind website has some great resources. SHOUT is a 24/7 text helpline and it’s free to text.
I would say that mental health problems exacerbated by things at home are best dealt with at places away from home. Luckily for you, you’re probably in school and most schools have places where you can go to get help. I was a very lucky person in this case as I was able to access a counsellor as he was one of the teachers, but I’m aware this isn’t usually the case. Talking to any teacher you feel comfortable talking to is a great way to start.
You might also be having problems at school. For a lot of young adults just getting into school can be difficult, especially when you approach those later years and find exams start to crop up left, right, and centre. Unfortunately dealing with these problems at home can sometimes be difficult if your parents don’t understand. In this case, I’d recommend trying to find a youth group as you’ll make some friends your age outside of school. Also, some youth groups may offer counselling or therapeutic services. If you’re struggling to find a youth group, have a look on social media. A lot of youth groups have Facebook and Instagram pages, so typing “(your local area) youth group” into the search bar may be a good place to start.
You can also talk to your GP. Now if you’re under 16, talking to your Doctor might be difficult as you may have to go in with your parents. However, if you’re comfortable with this, your GP is probably more than happy to help you find help. GPs also get tonnes of tips about services in your local area. Sometimes GP’s won’t be as helpful as you want them to be, please do not let this deter you from getting help. As we’ve explored, there are many other ways to get help too. Your GP may suggest going straight on to medication, which can help a lot of people, but it can also come with a lot of side effects. If you start medication, make sure you tell someone else so they can help keep an eye on you.
There are also lots of ways you can help yourself. Now, if you’re ready to do more or if you’re struggling with any of the other options, self-help is a great idea and it helps you work on yourself independently. Distractions and healthy coping mechanisms play a big part. All of the coping mechanisms and distractions that are suggested below are relatively inexpensive and easy to carry out
- Spend time in nature. Even just staring at a random tree out your window for 10-15 minutes after a heated argument or rough day can help you cool off. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew suggests setting up a chair by your window to get as much natural sunlight as possible.
- Get a small fan. I explained this on Instagram to my friends last night and the majority of us agreed it was a good idea. The fan boasts multiple benefits acting as white noise machine simulating wind and making the space around you cooler which in turn slows your heart rate and makes you feel tired
- Try switching up your routine. Giving your life variation gives you more things to look forward to and try
- Get a self-care app. A few that I’ve tried and genuinely like are: #selfcare, Neo: travel your mind and Zone
- Get an art app. I do digital art for a hobby, so I’m personally biased towards Autodesk sketchbook. A few years ago the full version was made free for everyone. Distracting yourself with drawing or even drawing your feelings you can’t explain is a great way to clear your mind.
- Listen to music or podcasts. Listen to your favourite songs or try listening to a podcast. There are many informative or feel-good podcasts such as ‘Happy place’ with Fearne Cotton.
- Make an ecosphere. Literally all you need for this is a local pond or stream and a random jar. An ecosphere gives you something microscopic to look at and appreciate and you have thousands of tiny little animals. You can find instructions to make one on YouTube.
- Develop a hobby. Hobbies give you something to be a part of. Crafty hobbies are especially helpful because you can often find a group of people to keep you going.
- Go for a walk. Take a gentle stroll around your neighbourhood and try to notice details and find beauty in your surroundings. I find that fresh air and stepping outside of the house to be beneficial for me.
There are many other things which you can do; try to do things that feel good but with minimal pressure.
- The Mix offers support to under-25’s
- Rethink Mental Illness guide to looking after yourself and others
- This NHS tool allows you to find mental health support for young people in your local area
If you or someone you know is experiencing a wellbeing crisis and/or wants to end their life, please contact emergency services (999) or your GP as soon as possible. If you or the person feels they cannot keep themselves safe, stay with someone until help arrives. Please know that there is no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings. The most important thing is to seek support so that you or the person you are concerned about do not have to struggle with those feelings alone. If suicidal feelings become intense or develop into urges and/or plans please seek emergency support as soon as possible.