Being a young person is difficult. Your care experience may mean that you have experienced things that can have an impact on your mental health. Although care experienced people are not a homogenous group and have different experiences and circumstances - people who have been in care are more likely to have experienced early childhood adversity. You might have seen somewhere that having adverse childhood experiences (ACES) can lead to difficulties in physical and mental health, but that does not mean that this is always the case. It can mean though that as child and young person you had to use a lot more strength and coping strategies to live your daily life. Of course, as a child and young person you should be focused on growing up and needing your extra mental strength can mean that your resources are running a little bit lower. Knowing this can help you be gentle and kind with yourself. Again, this does not mean that you are in any sense weaker than others. Imagine this, after a person runs a marathon, their muscles will be tired, they will be thirsty and hungry. If they now have to run the next day without taking time to recover, they are more likely to be injured. No one, however, would say that a marathon runner is weak. It would be better for the marathon runner to acknowledge which muscles hurt, so they can make sure to take it easy on them. So, in a way, you can also protect your mental health by learning more about yourself and learning if there are any experiences that still impact you. For example, it can be difficult to trust others if your trust has been broken before. But trust is fundamental in good relationships and good relationships are important for mental health. This is a way that a previous experience can impact your mental health. We are all different, and we all handle things differently – that’s why it is important for our mental well-being to gain an insight into ourselves. If you are concerned about your mental health, speaking to someone you trust, such as a supportive adult or your GP can help – having someone who will listen to you and give you unbiased support is crucial for everyone – regardless of circumstances and experiences. As well as professional help there are some things we can do to look after our mental health. Aiming to understand our thoughts, behaviours and triggers is an important step in addressing our mental health. There are a lot of resources and advice available to help you to better understand and take care of your mental health, but no-one knows you better than you. It can be difficult to identify the things that we are struggling with and even more difficult to understand why. Attempting to understand your own behaviours and thought patterns can be an important step in understanding yourself and your mental health better. Self-care is especially important for our mental well-being. Taking time for yourself is easier said than done. Dedicating some time to relax or enjoy a hobby every week is important. Life can be hectic and overwhelming at times – making time for yourself to do what you love should be a priority. Everyone needs supportive relationships, and they can have a positive impact on our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Having people to speak to about your mental health is crucial. Speak to the people you trust – this is easier said than done and we can find it difficult to open up. However, the people that care for you will want to support you the best they can and speaking to someone and being listened to can be the first step in healing and addressing our mental health needs.
If you would like to speak with your GP or someone close to you about your mental health but do not know where to start, here are some ideas that can help:
If you do not want to speak to someone face to face there are other options, such as telephone and online advice.
Some things that we can all do to take better control over our mental health are:
Most mental health problems appear gradually so it is important to attempt to understand ourselves better so we can best support ourselves through our own actions and through the support of others. If you think you may have a mental health disorder or you have been diagnosed with one you should be supported by your local authority in accessing the best care and support available to you. Understanding your disorder is an important step in controlling its impact in your day-to-day life. Medication can be life-changing for some, especially if the disorder is caused by imbalances in brain chemistry.
Therapy may be something that can help you to improve your mental health. You can refer yourself to the NHS physiological therapies service if you do not want to go to your GP. There are many types of talking therapies available such as:
There are many benefits to talking to someone about how you are feeling but you may not be ready yet to access support or are worried about the consequences of asking for help. If you are not ready to access support services in person you can access advice and helpful techniques and steps to take to better help you manage your mental health. Please know you are not alone – we all face difficulties and hard times and we all need help and support throughout our lives.
If you want to speak to someone confidentially you can contact Breathing space - 0800 83 85 87 (Monday to Thursday, 6pm – 2am; Friday 6pm to Monday 6am) breathingspace.scot
You can also speak to someone through NHS 24 – Telephone – 111 Website – nhs24.scot
If you would like more information on talking therapy and to self-refer you can do so here.
You can access more information about Trauma and Adverse childhood experiences here.
If you are concerned for someone’s mental health or would like tips in supporting someone you can access that and more here.
Information and help for suicidal thoughts can be found here.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, you should confide in someone or call NHS24 on 111 to seek help.
For further reading and ways to access support you can visit citizens advice here.