MENTAL HEALTH: dealing with overwhelming feelings

Struggling with recurring negative thoughts? It’s normal to feel isolated in your emotions but you are not alone. It takes courage to cope with these feelings every day but sharing will help you realise that many other people are in similar situations

Don’t feel ashamed to start a conversation about your mental health. There’s an increasing number of places to go for help, so don’t be scared to speak up.

Time to talk

On 3 February it’s Time to Talk Day. The awareness day is ran by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and aims to get everyone speaking openly about mental health.

The more people talk, the more the stigma surrounding these problems will reduce. Sharing can remove the fear of judgement and shame when opening up and help other people feel confident enough to do so. So, let’s get talking.

Anxiety and pressure

It’s totally natural to feel anxious in the school environment: it comes with lots of different pressures like doing well in exams and class, dealing with bullying, looking good, fitting in and making friends. After the break from regular school days due to covid-19, getting back into the school routine can still be a challenging adjustment.

Remember that even before this break people felt nervous about going into school. Having to deal with all these pressures again can be overwhelming, but know that everyone else is in the same boat. Mental health isn’t visible so many of your peers will also be trying to cope with their own problems so it’s important to be kind to others.

On the positive side, people are more open about mental health after the impact of covid-19 and take it seriously. Most schools will now have a wellbeing hub or a safe space in place where students can go when feeling overwhelmed. You might be feeling embarrassed to turn up to these rooms but once you make the first step in getting yourself there, you will be met with support. Another coping mechanism for dealing with anxious feelings can be the use of anxiety rings. Instead of repeatedly tapping your leg under the desk, you can discretely twist your ring to calm your nerves.

Having high-achieving older siblings can sometimes make you feel even more pressure to do well in exams and meet the standard set by them. Remember that you are your own person who can choose their own subjects and try their best. It’s not a competition and your siblings would hate to think you felt this pressure. If you have questions or you’re struggling with classes, they might be able to offer advice or help.

Seeking support

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the mounting responsibilities on young people, especially around exam time, and it can be really difficult to speak up. Your teachers are there to help, whether it’s answering questions on the subject they are passionate about or helping you know where to turn to get support in dealing with the stresses and pressures of the school environment.

If you are experiencing these feelings consistently and they are starting to affect how you feel and act on a daily basis, you should seek help. Start by opening up to someone you trust or booking an appointment with CAMHS to discuss what you are going through. Young Minds have a helpful guide on what to expect at a CAMHS appointment.

The idea of attending an appointment might put you off, but there are now video call options to get support. Talking is the first step to feeling better.

Helping a friend

If someone confides in you that they are struggling with their mental health, make sure you listen and ensure their feelings aren’t discredited. It’s important to listen and comfort your friends, but supporting them isn’t your sole responsibility: you could speak to a trusted teacher about your concerns or send them helpful information from organisations like Samaritans, Mind or the Mental Health Foundation so that they can seek further help.

Go to Young Minds for more information on understanding and coping with your mental health or helping a friend.

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