One in 10 young people in the UK is diagnosed with a serious mental health condition; 80,000 children and young people suffer from serious depression, and two young people kill themselves every day. Sounds like they're having a rough time. Are you one of them?

There is no shame in asking for help or finding out if there is something wrong, and none in getting treatment to make you feel better about yourself and more able to cope with life generally.

 

Time to Change say it's "Time to Talk" and aims to get people talking about mental health without being afraid or embarassed. Watch their video :

How are you?

Take the NHS wellbeing test to see how happy and well you are.

You might be stressed or anxious. Read the NHS information on being stressed , common problems and what you can do about them.

Take the mood test to see how you feel and get in touch with how it changes.

Take a lifecheck from the NHS and see how you could improve your general health. This in turn will improve your mental health and sense of wellbeing.

Winter blues?

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated 7% of the population every winter between September and April; in particular during December, January and February. Checkout the symptoms and join SADA (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association) for more information and help to make darks days brighter - literally.

But how do you know if you have a mental health problem?

There are plenty of other things which can be wrong, too!

  • Wondering if you are imagining it? It might be nothing, just one of those things, it will pass.You might just need to get it off your chest, let off some steam. Try tying your worries to a balloon and letting them go in a game from ChildLine. You can also let off steam and write anything you want on a wall of expression - and then rub it out. If you want to do something similar and share it (but anonymously), you can join Big White Wall for a nominal cost and write on there. If you just need to talk, Childline, the Samaritans and others will listen to you.
  • Having problems or a rough time can make you feel anxious or depressed, and can leave you feeling like life is not worth living, in which case you must seek help immediately. But there are many other mental health conditions which actually might be causing the rough times or just making them harder to deal with. 
  • Maybe you didn't realise there was anything wrong or thought everyone was the same, that was just how it was.
  • It might be something you can deal with yourself or with the help of a support group, not a mental health problem at all.
  • If you are not well in your body you might not realise it can be affecting your state of mind. This is more common than you might think, and getting it sorted might make you feel better all round. Check it out online with NHS Choices symptom checker for all symptoms (including mental health conditions) if you are 16 or over, call them on 0845 4647, or see your doctor or school nurse if you have one. If you have a chronic illness or disability there is more information on GTRT.
  • Think it might be a mental health problem - whether anyone wants to admit it or not? You can talk in confidence to ChildLine or the Samaritans. You can also find out quite a lot about mental health conditions on the internet. The Royal College of Pyschiatrists website has information and leaflets on specific conditions (or "problems"), treatments, and a special section for young people. MIND's website answers FAQ's and information on conditions including the early signs. Cafamily's extensive A-Z of conditions includes how they are diagnosed and treated. Sane.org.uk have a list of 15 most common mental health conditions.
  • Could you be depressed? Take the NHS self assessment test - but not instead of seeing a doctor to make sure!

However online research can be dangerous or misleading if you use it to make your own judgement of what is wrong and rely on it. CPFT recommend that you always see your doctor and let him or her decide if you have a mental health condition or a physical illness, and if so how to treat it.

It is also worth reading Cafamily's sensible guidelines for how to decide if medical information on the internet is authentic and can be trusted.

If you are reluctant to see a doctor because you are worried or unsure what will happen if you are given medication or referred to mental health services, talk to someone first and find out from the CPFT website what their services can do to help you and what part you can have in your treatment options.

Are you afraid of being forced into treatment or even hospital? MIND explain the rules on consent to treatment and Rethink tells you what happens if someone is "sectioned" or foced to be detained for treatment. They also list the range of treatments and therapies available. You can contact both these organisations for more help and advice. There are very good descriptions of mental health problems and how they affect you. All of these can be treated or managed whether through a doctor or psychiatrist or methods of helping yourself.

Alternative therapies

If you are considering hypnotherapy, acupuncture, emotional freedom therapy or something else alternative, get advice first and make sure you check out which are reputable therapists or practitioners - the British Complementary Medicine Association webiste tells you what you need to know and has a directory of members in your area. You may also need the permission of, or even to be accompanied by, an adult. It is also worth asking your doctor what they think.

It happens to a lot of people. If this includes you, you are NOT alone.

According to MIND, one in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year, and

  • around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain
  • 230 of these will visit a GP
  • 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem
  • 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service
  • Six will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.  

It happens to people just like you.

Young Minds has a lot of personal stories. Read about:

In "Removing the labels" young people talk about being themselves and not being defined by what is wrong with them:

Amongst other groups, YoungMinds is campaigning for change. Members of their VIK group have created the YoungMinds Manifesto to spell out the changes that must happen to reduce the suffering of young people with mental health problems because they are still not getting the support they need in schools, and many are waiting over six months to get treatment.

"Stigma" means that other people judge you and have set ideas about you for having a mental health condition, rather than seeing you a person and understanding your condition. This is happening less because organisations are actively trying to raise awareness and reduce stigma. Sane has the black dog campaign.   

Even if you have already been diagnosed with a mental health condition you may want to know more about what you have and how it can be treated.

You might be young but you have the right to make choices about your own treatment. If you learn as much as possible and take advice from trusted sources, you can keep much more control of what happens to you and not feel pressured into anything you don't want.

Obviously it depends on what you are diagnosed with, and we can't list all conditions and illnesses here, but there are plenty of places you can look for more information when you know to call what is wrong.

NHS Choices can help you learn more. CPFT have a range of information leaflets about various conditions, as well as medication you may be given, which you can download.

Youthspace has resources on various conditions explaining them and what the symptoms are.

If you are diagnosed with depression, you can read "What you should know about depression" from depressionalliance.org. If you ignore the technical bits there is a lot of information on what it is and how to deal with it, treatment, drugs and side effects and how to make informed choices.

Whatever is wrong, there are other people like you and you can learn from their experiences and perhaps help each other. NHS Choices has a video wall with people of all ages talking about how they have coped with various disorders and conditions.

There are also groups offering more information and support for just about every possible condition, including some in your local area.

 

The page was last updated on 02 July 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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