How you can help

Look after yourself

There are lots of things you can do to stay mentally healthy. These things can help if you already have a mental health problem, or if you have recovered and don’t want the same thing to happen again.

Simple things like doing more exercise, improving your diet, spending more time outdoors and upping your social contact can do an enormous amount to improve your mental wellbeing.

Keep active to keep the blues at bay

Research has proven that exercising can help people to keep mentally well. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that make us feel better straight away.

It’s also a great way to meet new people, get fresh air and a change of scenery. Just half-an-hour brisk walk every other day can make a huge difference. But try to exercise for at least 20 minutes every day if you can.

Talk about your feelings

Sharing your feelings with others and being listened to can really help. When you put things into words it helps you to think more clearly about the problem.

Instead of whirling around in your head and getting out of proportion, talking helps make the problem seem more manageable.

If you don’t feel you have anybody you can talk to, you could try calling or emailing a helpline. By talking to others, you can get a different view on what’s happening.

Eat your way to feeling good

Try your best to stick with a healthy diet. There is growing evidence that what we eat really does affect the way we feel.

Try to avoid or cut down on the things that can trigger or aggravate mental health problems, like alcohol and recreational drugs. Even though it might make you feel good temporarily, alcohol is a depressant drug.

Tea, coffee, cola, and other soft drinks contain caffeine – a powerful stimulant drug related to amphetamine and cocaine. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety and make it difficult to get enough sleep.

Don’t be hard on yourself

Try not to be a ‘perfectionist’ and expect too much of yourself – in your schoolwork or what you think your body should look like.

Spend time with people who make you feel good and avoid people who criticise or judge you.

Break difficult jobs or schoolwork down into small chunks that are easier to manage. Make sure you set goals that are realistic, write them down and tick them off when you’ve done them.

Have healthy hobbies and interests

People who are happiest in life are the ones who have a real passion for, or interest in, something.

If you don’t already have a hobby that you enjoy, try learning something new or doing something creative. This will boost your self-confidence and stop you spending time focusing on any problems or worries.

Helping others helps you!

Even if you’ve had more than your fair share of problems, helping other people is a great way to boost your self-esteem and make you feel good. People often say they are happiest when they are doing something for other people. See if you can find a way to volunteer at a local project or offer to help someone.

Looking after others

If one of your friends, a member of your family or somebody you know seems a bit down or you think they have a problem or are in trouble encourage them to get help.

Why not tell them to have a look at our website or one of the many other websites that are out there. Part of being a good mate is helping your friends when they are having problems – you would appreciate it if they did the same for you.

Here are some tips on helping people you know who are having problems:

Compiled from www.childrenfirst.nhs.uk and www.childline.org.uk.

Page last updated on July 23rd, 2012