It is natural to sometimes feel low or to find life a challenge,
particularly if they have gone through a recent period of
change or some difficult personal issues. If they are able to
manage their emotions at these times, and if episodes of
sadness or worry pass, they are probably just the result of
the ups and downs of life. Learning to manage their
emotions and develop their resilience is a really positive
thing to do and it can help them when life gets tough.
However, if they have a period of low mood which persists
or feelings of anxiety which get in the way of day-to-day life
then they may need some extra support. It’s important to
acknowledge and understand their feelings and seek help
form those around them.
Stress and anxiety are natural, normal feelings we all
experience from time to time. It is our body’s way of
preparing us for a challenge when faced with stress, by
releasing a hormone called adrenaline. We all have different
levels of stress we can cope with - some people are just
naturally more anxious than others, and are quicker to get
stressed or worried.
If they think their anxiety is getting in the way of day-to-day
life, or having a significant effect on their school
life or relationships, it is best to try and get help.
What does anxiety feel like?
Anxiety causes a number of reactions in the body, which
can feel very unpleasant. They include:
Feeling shaky, feeling sick or having stomach cramps, or
feeling dizzy or faint.
Breathing fast or finding it hard to breathe.
Heart beating fast (palpitations), sweating, tense muscles.
Feeling like you might die.
These reactions are designed to make us feel
uncomfortable so we are alert and able to respond quickly
But anxiety which happens often, or at the wrong time, can
affect the behaviour and thoughts of the anxious person
in negative ways. These can include:
Feeling scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed a lot
of the time.
Not having the confidence to try new things, face
challenges or even carry on as normal.
Finding it hard to concentrate, or having problems with
sleeping or eating.
Having angry outbursts where the person gets very angry
very quickly and feels ‘out of control’.
Worries or negative thoughts going round and round the
person’s head, or thinking that bad things are going to
happen all the time.
What can they do to help themself?
Do some regular exercise, as it can reduce the levels of
Learn relaxation techniques.
Get enough good, regular sleep.
Have a healthy diet.
Spend time socialising and relaxing with friends or family.
They need to think about whether there is something
happening in their life which is causing these feelings. Are
they being abused, bullied, exploited or under too much
pressure? Tell them to talk to someone they trust about
how this could change.
If they feel their anxiety is not getting any better or is getting
worse it is a good idea to ask for some professional help.
Talk to someone they trust, parents, school nurse, GP, or
teacher. They can call the Samaritans free and
confidentially 24 hours a day on 116 123 to talk
about anything that's upsetting them.
Self-harm involves someone deliberately injuring
themselves and can be a really hard issue to understand.
They may self-harm if they are feeling anxious, depressed
or stressed or if they are being bullied and feel that they do
not have anyone to turn to or a way to deal with their
problems. Issues can ‘build up’ to the point where they feel
like they are going to explode. Young people who self-harm
often talk about the ‘release’ that they feel after they have
self-harmed, as they use it as a mechanism to cope with
They may self-harm to relieve tension, to try and gain
control of the issues that may be concerning them or to
punish themself. Sometimes in severe cases it is an
attempt to commit suicide if the problems are very severe.
If they feel they can’t control what’s happening around
them, they may feel that self-harming is a way they can
control something in their life.
Self-harming is a sign that there are underlying issues
which they may need help with. Harming themself can be a
way of managing their feelings. However they could risk a
serious injury with long-term consequences. They need to
get help as soon as possible. Talk to someone they trust,
their parents/carers, school nurse, GP, or teacher.
It’s normal and healthy to get angry when there is a good
reason and sometimes we just feel angry but we don’t
really know why. It is important to do something with our
angry feelings and not bottle them up, but losing our
temper may make things worse.
Anger only becomes a problem when it harms them or
people around them. Watch out for behaviour becoming out
of control or aggressive because of anger. This can happen
If the way they behave when they feel angry is causing
them problems in their life, at school or in relationships,
think and learn about ways they can choose to manage
their anger. Tell them to talk to someone they trust, their
parents/carers, school nurse, GP, or teacher, if they feel
worried or out of control.
Anger isn't a mental health problem - it's a normal part of
life. However, anger can contribute to mental health
problems and make existing problems worse. For
example, if they often struggle to manage feelings of anger
it can be very stressful and might negatively effect their
self-esteem. This can lead to them experiencing problems
such as depression, anxiety, eating problems or self-harm.
It can also contribute to sleep problems, and problems with
alcohol and substance misuse.
There are ways they can learn to stay in control of their
anger. When they find themself in difficult situations they
Look out for warning signs, anger can cause a rush of
adrenaline through their body, so they might notice their
heart is beating faster, their breathing is quicker, their body
is becoming tense and they're clenching their jaw or fists.
Recognising these signs gives them the chance to think
about how they want to react to a situation before
Give themself some time: sometimes when we're
feeling angry, we just need to walk away from the situation.
This can give them time to work out what they're thinking
about the situation, decide how they want to react to it
and feel more in control. Some ways they can buy
themself time to think are counting to 10 before they do
anything, going for a short walk, talking to someone they
Breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes to help
relax their body and mind, using up some energy like
hitting a pillow or running as fast as they can, doing
something to distract themself like listening to music or
reading or writing things down.
They could also try mindfulness techniques. Being
mindful means paying attention to the present moment,
exactly as it is. It is really hard to be anxious if they are
completely focused on the present moment - what they
are sensing and doing right now. Let them notice what
they are experiencing right now through three senses -
sound, sight, touch.
Losing someone important to them is one of the hardest
things to experience in life. Their world may feel as though
it has crashed down around them and they may feel very
alone, especially because they might find that none of their
friends have gone through anything similar and don’t
understand or know what to say. But support and advice
are available to help them get through it.
Grieving is a natural part of recovering from a bereavement,
and everyone’s experience of grief is different. There are no
rules about what we should feel, and for how long.
However, some people may need some extra support,
especially if the situation surrounding the loss was
complicated or if it was a sudden death or if their grief impacts
on their day-to-day life for a prolonged period of time. Signs
that someone might need help include excessive withdrawal,
depression, not attending to personal basic needs such as
eating, washing or using alcohol and/or drug abuse etc.
Looking after themself during a bereavement
During a time of grief they may not feel like looking after
themself, but it is important to help them cope with the
extreme emotions that come with bereavement.
Look after themself physically by eating well and adopting
some good sleep habits. Aim for three meals a day with healthy snacks and try and go to bed at around the same
time each night, avoiding screens such as laptops and
mobile phones just before bed. Exercise can help them
sleep better but also, focussing on something physical can
take their mind off their emotions which might be helpful at
If they have a good support network of friends and family
encourage them to accept their help when it is offered and
make sure they talk to them when they need to. Doing
ordinary things with their friends and socialising can also be
a good idea. They shouldn’t feel guilty about having a good
There are lots of positive ways of managing their feelings
and improving their resilience - which means being able to
bounce back and cope when life gets challenging. Having
a good support network and being physically healthy
helps, but mindfulness is a technique which can also help.
Being mindful means paying attention to the present
moment, exactly as it is and calmly acknowledging and
accepting thoughts and feelings. This can help them
understand and manage their feelings and encourages
them to slow down, breathe, notice and think. It can help
them make better decisions and feel more able to cope.
WellMind is their free NHS mental health and wellbeing app
designed to help them with stress, anxiety and depression.
The app includes advice, tips and tools to improve their
mental health and boost their wellbeing. Download for free
now on iPhones, iPads and Android devices by searching
'WellMind' on the App Store or Google Play.
Parent Helpline 0808 802 5544
Freephone 116 123
The Mix - Essential support for under 25s
The Mix: 0808 808 4994 - Free information and support for under 25s in the UK. Get advice about sex, relationships, drugs, mental health, money & jobs.
Emotional support for children and young people on
issues relating to child abuse, bullying etc.
PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide)
National Confidential Helpline -
HOPELineUK 0800 068 41 41
(Mon-Fri 10am to 10pm; Weekends 2pm to 10pm;
Bank Holidays 2pm to 5pm)
A website for young people who have been bereaved.
Cruse bereavement care
Calm Harm app
Helps you manage the urge to self harm.
Download for free now on iPhones, iPads
and Android devices by searching 'Calm
Harm' on the App Store or Google Play.