Going to school can be an enjoyable experience, but many people find it difficult at times. There can be pressure to do well academically on top of worries around friendships and sometimes bullying.
It’s normal to feel anxious and to worry sometimes. But if your worries don’t stop, and begin to feel overwhelming, it’s time to get some help. Pressure around school work and exams can cause concerns, as well as getting along with others. A bit of anxiety can help you deal with difficult times, and it can help you perform better, for example in exams. But once the difficult situation is over, you should feel better and calm down. If the problem has gone but the feeling of fear and panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety can become a problem and can really affect your everyday life.
Bullying is always wrong – nobody should hurt you or make you feel bad. It can help to tell a teacher, and your school will have a policy on bullying.
Bullying includes being physically harmed, being called names or teased, having stuff taken from you, having rumours spread about you, being ignored or left out, and being threatened or intimidated.
Tell someone – your friends might be able to help you, or can just be there for you if you feel low. If you are ready to tell them what’s happened, they could help you to tell the people to stop bullying you. Or tell a teacher or other member of staff – your school has a duty to make sure you’re okay.
It can feel really stressful doing homework and revising for exams. It’s easy to think that it’ll never be done in time or that it won’t be good enough. Exams are sometimes built up to be the most important thing ever, which also piles on the pressure. It’s important to try to manage these stresses and look after your mental wellbeing.
It’s really important that you take breaks from studying to relax and do things that make you feel good. You’ll know what works for you, but it might include:
- Having a bath
- Going for a walk
- Calling a friend
- Listening to music
- Watching a film
- Being creative
If you’re feeling really stressed out, talk to someone about how you’re feeling – this can make things feel easier. Relaxation is also really important when things are feeling too much; see here for a simple breathing exercise and lots of other ideas on looking after yourself.
YoungMinds, the young people’s mental health charity, launched a campaign recently called Wise Up which aims to persuade the government to change policy to ensure schools prioritise the wellbeing of their students alongside academic achievement. This is because of the level of mental health need in classrooms, with children and young people facing more pressures than ever before. Research has found that students, parents and teachers think that the focus on exam results has become too important compared to wellbeing.
If you feel this is an issue you’d like to do something about you could talk to people in your school about signing up to the campaign: https://youngminds.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/wise-up/.
Schools employ a range of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher.
Most schools have a nurse who either have a drop-in clinic or appointments you can make to see them. They can provide information about mental health and emotional wellbeing, and can help you access further support if this is needed.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have. Call your GP surgery to speak to the receptionist or go there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why; this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. You don’t have to tell them why – you can just say it’s for something personal if you like.
If you think you’ll might have difficulty discussing your mental health with your GP, you can find advice about how to prepare How to Talk to Your GP About Mental Health
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) – these are community teams that help children and young people with emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties.
Off the Record – free mental health support for 11-18 year olds. www.otrbristol.org.uk, 0808 808 9120.
South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies – free support for people aged 16 and over. https://iapt-sglos.awp.nhs.uk/, 0117 378 4270.
ChildLine – free helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
The Mix: telephone and email support for under 25’s. Freephone 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm) Crisis Messenger 85258 www.themix.org.uk
Kooth – Free, safe and anonymous online counselling support for young people aged 11-18yrs olds.
Samaritans – if something is troubling you call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Get self-help – free online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resources, www.getselfhelp.co.uk.
Reading Well: Shelf help – a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries. https://reading-well.org.uk/books/books-on-prescription/young-people-mental-health