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Helping young people with their mental health

Following Mental Health Awareness day earlier in October, I wanted to talk about the warning signs of mental health problems among young people.

It is easy to miss the signs and put this down to adolescence, mood swings or just ‘kids being kids’ and most of the time that is what is going on, but if you are worried about a young person in your life consider some of these warning signs:

  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties

  • Withdrawal from activities that they used to enjoy

  • Changes to their eating or sleeping habits

  • Feelings of anger and frequent outbursts

  • Unexplained physical ailments such as complaining of headaches, tummy pains etc.

  • Prolonged low or negative mood

  • Changes in the way they cope with daily activities such as school

If you start to see some of these signs in young people you are around don’t panic or shout, don’t try to ‘fix’ the problem without understanding what the problem/s is or are. Use some of these tips to try to engage with the young person.

  • Listen to them when they want to talk. If you suspect a problem, make sure they know you are around when they are ready to talk and don’t ignore them when they do

  • If they show signs of anger and frustration respond calmly, try not to shout.

  • Schedule time to spend together doing something they enjoy – if they feel relaxed they are more likely to open up

  • Be patient – young people are unlikely to offer information so be patient with them

  • Share your feelings with them – if they see that everyone has times where they can feel low or struggle they might not feel quite so isolated.

  • Talk to a teacher and see if they are expressing any of these signs within school time. If you are worried talk to your GP.

There are lots of online resources that you can turn to if you are worried about someone and their mental health so make use of them and together you will be able to tackle problems that might help to improve their situation.

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