What should I do if I am worried about my own wellbeing or that of my friend?
Wellbeing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.”, i.e. how someone is coping/feeling – are they struggling? Are you worried about their safety?
Please share this information with us. We want to and can help. We understand that you may be worried about breaking any confidences, but if you are worried about someone you already want to help them. We have experienced staff who can support and, if need be, signpost to other people who can help. In our experience, the person involved always understands why you have spoken to us and accepts this.
If you have been trying to support your friend for a while, it will probably also be affecting you, and we want to help you too.
You should mention your concerns to your Head of Year who will be able to put you in touch with the right people.
What should I do if I am having a crisis in the holidays or at the weekend?
Please tell someone, ideally in your house at that moment or contact someone else to talk to them. Please see the list of contacts below and at the end of this section and get in touch with them as soon as possible.
What support services are available to me while we are studying at home?
All the support services we offer are still available to you. Your Form Tutor, Head of Year and the School Counsellor can still be reached, but via email. Please email them to get in touch and they will get back to you as soon as possible.
In addition, you can still self-refer at any time to Healthy Minds via this link, or you can contact your own GP for further information:
The following services are also available if you feel your distress is out of control and you need immediate help or someone to talk to. It’s important that you still tell a member of staff so that we can also provide support in school.
PAPYRUS – call 0800 068 41 41 or text 07786 209697. For children, teenagers or young people up to age 35: (Mon-Fri: 10am-10pm, Weekend: 2pm-10pm, bank holidays: 2pm-5pm).
The Sanctuary – 0300 003 7029. Mental health crisis line, available from 8pm to 6am, for anyone over 18 years old. Talk to them if you are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts or are in crisis.
Samaritans – Freephone 116 123. 24 hours each day, every day. Talk to them any time you like, in your own way, and off the record about whatever’s getting to you.
I have never asked for help with my mental health or wellbeing before, but I feel that I may need some help now. Can I ask for help and support even if I have never asked before?
Yes! This is strange time for everyone and it is perfectly understandable if you feel that you need someone to talk to. Get in touch with your Head of Year who will try their best to help or put you in touch with someone who can. The important thing is to mention how you are feeling to someone as soon as possible.
Are there any updated sources of information about and support for mental health that are specific to the current situation?
Yes, there are several updated sources of information. A reliable one we recommend is:
YoungMinds – Some useful information on how to look after your mental health while social distancing and self-isolating. They focus on staying connected, staying calm, and have advice on how to deal with stressful situations at home.
I’ve heard about self-help guides before, but where do I find them?
There are many self-help guides on the internet but it is important to select the correct ones. Below are links to three mental health services that have good self-help guides including booklets, worksheets and videos. They are all evidence-based and recommended by CHSF:
In addition, the NHS provides a range of audio guides that cover “low mood, sadness and depression”, “anxiety control training”, “overcoming sleep problems”, “low confidence and assertiveness” and “unhelpful thinking”.
What other help is there?
The following services also provide help and support on a variety of issues:
www.camhs-resources.co.uk/ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
www.youngminds.org.uk Respected mental health charity.
www.childline.org.uk For young people and individuals who are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of young people. The help and advice section has pages about bullying, abuse, homelessness, suicide and much more. (tel. 0800 1111).
How else can I look after my wellness/wellbeing?
Many factors contribute to your wellbeing. You need to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, get outdoors and do things that you enjoy. In the current situation it is also important to stay connected to your friends and family. Chats and video calls are an excellent way to do this.
We have also compiled a list of popular books, Instagram pages and apps that you may find useful to help with your overall wellbeing (see below).
How much sleep should I be getting?
The NHS recommends 8-9 hours of sleep per night for teenagers. If you are having trouble falling asleep, there are lots of things you can try:
Things that are known to make sleep worse:
- Napping during the day.
- Watching television in bed.
- Using a device with a bright screen in the hour before bedtime (e.g. a smartphone, a laptop).
- Working too late and stopping just before you try to get to sleep.
- Consuming drinks containing caffeine (includes tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks, hot chocolate). Try to avoid caffeine after 6pm.
- Eating a heavy meal less than 3 hours before bedtime.
- Staying in bed even if you can’t fall asleep (it’s better to get up and do something relaxing, then try again later).
Things that are known to improve sleep:
- Finish studying at least an hour before you try to go to sleep
- Don’t use your phone/tablet/computer for at least an hour before trying to get to sleep. The blue light from the screens can supress the production of melatonin (sleep hormone).
- Exercise daily – regular exercise helps you to sleep more soundly. The NHS recommends 60 minutes of exercise per day for teenagers. Exercising in the daylight also helps to build healthy sleep patterns.
- Don’t drink caffeine for at least 4 hours before bed. Caffeine can stop you falling asleep, and can also disrupt how much deep sleep you have.
- Don’t eat too much just before bed (but don’t try to sleep if you are hungry).
- Have a good bedtime routine. Doing the same things in the same order as you are preparing to go to bed will help you to drift off to sleep.
- Make sure that your sleep environment is dark, cool, quiet and comfortable.
- If you have something on your mind that is preventing you from falling asleep, jot it down or make a “to do” list for the next day.
What things should I be eating for a 'balanced diet'?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It means that you need to eat a diet that is varied and provides the important nutrients that your body needs It is advisable to limit food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate, but you are still allowed to have them! NHS guidelines recommend:
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day.
- Stay well hydrated (aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day).
Make sure that you are getting enough iron – some good sources are red meat, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, and bread.
- Vitamin D is important in our diets to keep our teeth and bones healthy. We get most of it from the sun, so try to get outside for a walk each day (always wear sunscreen).
- Calcium helps us to build strong teeth and bones – some good sources are dairy products and leafy green vegetables.
What counts as 'exercise'? Can I just go for a walk?
Yes walking counts as exercise! Find physical activities that you enjoy and make them part of your life. It can help to pick a certain time each day and stick to it. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain which can positively change your mood and make you feel better about yourself. Exercise makes you feel more energetic, sleep better, feel more relaxed, feel more positive about yourself and your memory sharper. Even small amounts of physical activity can make a difference. Evidence from research seems to show that some exercise is much better than none, but at least 3-4 times per week is something to aim for.
The NHS recommends that you should aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day. Moderate intensity activities raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing. Examples of moderate intensity activities include:
- Going for a walk.
- Walking the dog.
- Cycling on level ground or ground with few hills.
- Putting on your favourite music and having a dance!
The NHS also recommends that you take part in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscles and bones. Examples of these types of exercise include:
- resistance exercises with exercise bands, weight machines or handheld weights
- skipping with a rope
- martial arts
- sit-ups, press-ups and other similar exercises
Why is going outside each day good for you?
Getting outdoors is great for your physical and mental health. You are likely to be exercising if you are outdoors, we get vitamin D from sunlight (always wear sunscreen), and fresh air and exercise also help us to sleep better! There are many other health benefits of getting outdoors, especially if you enjoy some green spaces such as going to a park or to the countryside. In the current situation, it is a great opportunity to get out of the house and to give yourself a break.
How important is staying connected to my friends and family?
This is extremely important, especially at this time when people may feel a bit isolated, especially from your friends. Speaking to your family and friends can allow you to share positive experiences and get emotional support.
There are many ways to keep in touch:
- Take time each day to be with your family.
- Group chats, video calls and quizzes are all really popular at the moment.
Lots of people are taking up new hobbies or learning a new skill – why is this good for you?
Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Learning can give you greater satisfaction and optimism, improve your ability to get the most from life.
Some ideas that you can try at home are:
- Learn to cook a new healthy dish.
- Test out you baking skills.
- Take up art or crafting.
- Visit a local gallery or museum online.
- Sign up for a course such as learning a new language.
Many of my friends are getting involved in charity events at the moment. Should I get involved too?
Giving to others and small acts of kindness towards others can give you a sense of purpose and help make you to feel happier. They are linked to positive wellbeing. This could be things as simple as a smile, a thank you or a kind word. You could get involved in charity runs, bike rides, crafting, baking – or come up with something completely unique!
I’ve read about mindfulness but where do I start?
Paying more attention to the present moment, your own thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you can improve your mental wellbeing. Some people call this mindfulness and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Being mindful can help you notice early signs of stress or anxiety and help you deal with them better.
To make a start on mindfulness you could take time each day to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you. It is a good idea to set aside a certain time each day so that you do not forget to do this. Yoga and tai-chi can also help with developing awareness of your breathing.
The NHS has made some guided mindfulness practice videos that you can try anytime by using the link below:
There is also a short mindful breathing exercise video on YouTube from Every Mind Matters.
Our top 10 tips
- It is perfectly normal to feel anxious or stressed at the moment.
- Talk to someone if you are worried.
- Stay connected to your friends and family.
- Get outside – fresh air can work wonders.
- Be active several times a week – this can be as simple as going for a walk.
- Eat well – make sure that you are eating a balanced diet.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take the opportunity to learn a new skill or take up an old hobby.
- Make time to do the things that you enjoy.
- Be kind to others and yourself.
- CHHS Library mental health newsletter
- Happiful – Wellness magazine
Popular wellness books
- Vex King: “Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness”
- Fearne Cotton: “Happy: Finding joy in every day and letting go of perfect”
- Frankie Bridge: “OPEN: Why asking for help can save your life”
- Fearne Cotton Happy Place Podcast
- Open Mind with Frankie Bridge