If school is stressing you out, check out the advice from Childline on things you can try to help you cope better. Our fave tip? Try breaking down a big problem into smaller ones you can solve one at a time. Then it doesn’t feel like so much to deal with…
It seems like everybody’s talking about how Scotland can get better at supporting people’s mental health. The Scottish Government have a new plan – called the ten-year Mental Health Strategy.
We like the way See Me Scotland explain why having a plan like this matters: ‘We all have mental health and the results of this strategy must be that when we are struggling, we feel safe and supported to speak out and get help, in any area of our life, without the chance of being dismissed or judged.’
The Mental Health Strategy has lots of plans for making mental health support for young people better. Here are some of the things it sets out to do:
To review the mental health support that pupils get in schools.
To look into counselling in schools and other places for young people.
To think about how Personal and Social Education (PSE) lessons at school could do more to get pupils talking about mental health and teach them about where they can get info, advice and support.
To get better at supporting young people with their mental health issues early on, before they get worse.
What do YOU think of the Government’s Strategy for Mental Health?
The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) have been campaigning about many of the issues talked about it in the strategy for over a year with their Speak Your Mind campaign and their report Our generation’s epidemic. MSYP Lewis Douglas recently told Reach that after talking with almost 1500 young people, MSYPs had found that “one in five young people did not know where to go for advice and support for a mental health problem. Young people also said that, as well as embarrassment and a fear of being judged, a lack of understanding about mental health is a major barrier to talking openly about the issue.”
The good news is that there are already schools that are doing some great things around mental health. For example, we just read about how pupils at Castle Douglas High School staged a take over at their school for a week to get people talking about mental health and how to challenge stigma.
Castle Douglas pupils used See Me Scotland’s What’s on Your Mind?’ pack to do their own lessons on mental health with younger pupils at the school. Genius! No wonder they even got their story on the telly… Check out what they had to say here.
If you’re having a hard time and life is getting you down, we totally get that it’s not always easy to ask for help. Here’s some of the reasons why you might not want to talk about issues in your lives:
No one will understand
I feel I can cope on my own
I don’t want adults interfering in my personal life
People might label or judge me
My friends won’t want to hang out with me anymore.
So why ask for help? By sharing your problems with someone you trust, you might find it easier to cope with them. And they might be able to help you find ways to change the things in your life that you want to.
We like what Childline say about this: “Someone else can often help you see your problem differently. They could give you new ideas on how to cope with things…Putting things into words often helps. Sometimes it’s just good to say what’s on your mind. Talking to someone could make you feel like you don’t have to deal with it on your own.”
First steps. Starting the coversation might be the hardest part. Here’s 3 great conversation starters from Childline:
“I want to tell you something but I don’t know how.”
“This is hard for me to say, but I have something important to tell you.”
“I need some advice on something I’m stressed about.”
Or you could say that you’re asking for advice for a friend. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend you aren’t talking about yourself.
There’s loads more good advice on Childline’s website about who to talk to, how to plan what you want to say, and what to do if you don’t want to talk to anyone face to face.
Young carers in Scotland recently took part in a survey for the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland. They were asked about how their caring role made them feel. Caring is different for everyone – for a lot of young carers it means spending time with the person you care for and doing other jobs around the house to help.
The young people who took part said that there is more good than bad stuff about being a young carer – one young person explained that “coping with being a young carer is difficult, yes, but I feel proud that I’m making sure my family are okay”. But on the down side, the more caring responsibilities you have, the more stressful life can feel. Getting enough sleep can be a problem too as you sometimes help out overnight – one young person said “I get really tired a lot and really depressed a lot“. Sadly, over half of the young people who took part in the research said that they sometimes felt they had difficulties that were piling up so high they felt like they could not overcome them.
One good thing that the research found out was that a lot of young carers like school, maybe because it gives you a break from caring. Also, that after young carers’ services, guidance teachers were the most likely to be the people that young carers could get support from. One young person summed up really well the kind of support that helps:
“More awareness from people around me on how I’m coping/what I deal with. People just to listen and try to understand, be more patient with me and more flexible with deadlines/pressures. Someone specific who I can talk to who won’t judge me and who will offer support and advice. More respite activities to get a break and to have fun, relax. Workshops to help me cope better – learn techniques, understand feelings and emotions in caring are normal and not to feel guilty”.
Need advice or want to meet young people in the same boat as you? Babble is an online space where under 18s who are caring for a family member or friend can chat, share their stories and get info and advice.
Here’s something that can make a big difference to pupils’ lives. Ever heard of GIRFEC? It’s short for Getting it Right for Every Child. GIRFEC helps the adults who support you to work together to make sure you are ok and that you get the support you need. Check out this GIRFEC wheel picture. Teachers and other people who support you might use this wheel when talking to you about what is going well in your life and where you need more help.
What does GIRFEC mean for you?
GIRFEC should make sure that:
You understand what is happening and why.
You have been listened to and your wishes have been heard, understood and taken into account.
You feel confident about the help you are getting.
You are involved in discussions and decisions that affect you.
You know you will get support that is right for you as soon as possible.
People that are supporting you work together to make sure you get the support you need
Check out Ryan’s story to get an idea of what GIRFEC looks like in real life.
Here’s how some of the older pupils at Gourock Primary have helped people understand what GIRFEC is about by setting up a social enterprise. If your secondary school have done any projects like this, would be great to hear from you.
“The Games Café began with an idea from our P6 pupils in the school. They wanted to make sure that the rest of the pupils in the school knew the 8 wellbeing indicators. They thought of a game board with the wellbeing wheel in the centre and some stops around the outside where the player would think about the indicators. The Girfec Gameboard with question cards was completed and printed a year later.
We entered a local Dragons’ Den style competition where we pitched an idea to spread the word of our Girfec Gameboard through a Games Café for the school and community. This was a Social Enterprise bid and all funds would go to our Partner school in Malawi.
The Games Café has been running since August 2016 and already we have had parents, pupils and members of the community coming along to the Games Café for a coffee or tea, home baking and a chance to play the game.”
A big thank you to the Girfec Group at Gourock for writing this – Jess, Adam ,Duncan, Ellie & Maya.
Do you feel under pressure from people at school to have the ‘perfect’ body? Social media, magazines, TV, films – sometimes it can feel like you can’t get away from all those pics of celebrities that tell you how you should look, what you should eat, and how you should behave.
If you find it hard to feel confident at school because of how you look, you’re not alone. Here are some of the findings from a recent survey by the YMCA called Somebody Like Me, where secondary school pupils all over the UK were asked about how they feel about their body image:
More than half of young people (52%) said they often worry about the way they look.
Almost a third (30%) of secondary school pupils said that not feeling confident about their bodies had made them isolate themselves so they didn’t have to take part in sport or other activities.
Almost three in five (57%) have or would consider going on a diet to change the way they look.
One in 10 (10%) would even consider having cosmetic surgery to change the way they look.
So, another school term has whizzed by. From all of us here, we wish you a wonderful Christmas.
We hope the festive break will give you a chance to celebrate, recharge your batteries and have lots of fun. But we know it’s not an easy time of year for everyone – dealing with family arguments, feeling like everyone else is having a ball when you just feel rubbish…. If you’re struggling this Christmas, remember that Childline are here for you. And if you have worries about school and think you may need support, our helpline will be back open on 4 January at 9am if you want to get in touch.
Growing up can be stressful and there are lots of things that might be worrying you. Seeme Scotland want you to know it’s ok to talk about how you are feeling, and although there might be some pretty big stuff going on in your life, it’s ok not to feel ok about it all.
Have a look at their great new film and let someone know how you feel.
Warning: There is some strong language in the film.
Jonny Benjamin knows what he’s talking about when it comes to mental health. Jonny has struggled with mental illness since he was very young. In school he felt different, struggled with depression and anxiety and heard voices. He managed to do okay at school so nobody knew how ill he really was.
Things got so bad when he went to university that at one point he stood on the side of a bridge ready to jump. But an amazing thing happened – a passerby called Neil stopped and persuaded him not to jump. After getting help and finding ways to cope Jonny now talks to young people about looking after their mental health and campaigns for better support. Here’s Jonny’s advice if you are feeling down or are thinking of hurting yourself:
Find an outlet. Do something to get the feelings outside of your head – keep a diary, make a video, draw, paint, play sport.
Create a crisis box. Fill it with things you know make you feel better – favourite music, food, films or books – anything you can turn to when you are feeling down.
Find out if there is any support near where you live. There might be a group you can get in touch with if you feel able.
If you find talking about your feelings hard, text or email a helpline. They will get back in touch with advice.
Use a safe online forum to share how you’re feeling. Elefriends is somewhere you can share what’s going on with you.
Jonny has lots of videos on You tube sharing what has helped him to cope day-to-day. Take care of yourself, watching some of these may bring up some difficult feelings.