Anxiety is a feeling of worry, uneasiness or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings.
We all experience anxiety feelings from time to time. It is completely normal and a certain amount of anxiety helps us to be more alert and focused. For example just prior to an exam, a few exam nerves have a positive effect - motivating us, helping us focus our thoughts on the task, making us more alert. Too much anxiety, or constantly being anxious, is unhealthy and detrimental to our lives and relationships.
Did you know five children in everyclass has a mental health problem. It is really common but we can help.
Symptoms of anxiety for 12-18 year olds
- increasing heart rate,
- breathing very fast,
- shaking or sweating;
- stomach ache, ‘butterflies’;
- dry mouth;
- sweating more than usual;
- tense muscles;
- wobbly legs.
Thoughts and feelings:
- preoccupied by negative thoughts such as – ‘I am going to fail this exam which means I will not do well in life’; ‘Nobody in this class likes me’; ‘People will laugh at me when I will do this presentation’; ‘What if something bad happens to my parents’, ‘I am stupid’.
- feeling out of control;
- feeling numb;
- feeling nervous, on edge or frightened;
- worrying constantly about being unable to cope with school, friendships or social situations;
- withdrawing or isolating – not wanting to go to school, avoiding social situations, be away from family or try new things;
- repeating certain behaviours such as arranging books on your shelves or checking if doors are locked;
- eating more or less than usual;
- not sleeping as mind keeps focusing on worry thoughts;
- more snappy, reactive within relationships.
I really wish I could tell 17-year-old Emily to just tell someone. Believe me, it feels so much better to get your worries out of your head and be honest about what you’re going through. Emily
Tips to help
Looking after yourself
Sometimes when people have mental health problems they might forget or lack energy to take proper care of themselves. It is still important despite feeling low to maintain a healthy diet and get the right amount of sleep! Exercise has also been found to improve mood!
Talk to someone about how you are feeling
It can be really easy to isolate yourself from other people and spend more time on your own with your thoughts. It might feel like the easier thing to do, but we know that sharing your thoughts and feelings helps relieve some of those feelings and make things feel a little better.
You could talk to a family member or close friend about how you are feeling – having someone to listen really does help!
Other people you can talk to
If you don’t feel like talking to someone you know you could always try reaching out on the below sites who can offer chat services or more information.
Young Minds A really good website with expert articles, advice and blogs and a crisis text-line.
Self-care tips for young people. Watch these videos on dealing with unhelpful thoughts, sleep, social media, anxiety, exercise and more
Happy Maps have produced reliable resources recommended by Parents and Professionals.
BESTIE is an exciting, interactive online platform, designed to help young people to find out more about emotional wellbeing and mental health and to get the right help when they need it.
Here2Help will provide support for people of all ages and is available for both residents and organisations to access information, advice, tools, guidance and local support available to them or others in the local community based on their needs.
No wrong door Herefordshire is a one stop shop for young people aged 11 – 24 to access support around any issue they need.
Worcestershire Young Carers provides a wide variety of mainly community focused support for people and are often described as the ‘glue’ between those at risk of social isolation and the wider mainstream society.
Herefordshire Young Carers Club provides support and respite for children and young adults who are caring for a family member with an illness, disability, mental health issue or problem with drugs or alcohol.
Barnardos protect, support and nurture the UK's most vulnerable children
Activities that can help
Use maths and numbers
Run through a times table in your head
Count backwards from 100
Choose a number and think of 5 ways you could make the number for example 6+7=17, 20-3=17, 8x2+1=17
Imagine you are blowing the biggest bubble you can
Take in a breathe and imagine you have a pot of bubble liquid
Slowly and gently blow bubbles into the room
Identify all the colours in the room
Hot Chocolate breathing
Pretend you are holding a warm mug of hot chocolate. Take in a deep brathe through your nose and smell the treat. Then breathe out through your mouth to cool it off. Repeat!
Pick up and touch items that are near you
Are the things you touch hard or soft? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and colour of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colours, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo or turquoise instead of simple red or blie.
Sit up straight. Breathe in cool blue air. Stick your touge out and breathe out angry red fire.
Notice your body
You can do this sitting or standing. Focus on how your body feels from head to toe, noticing each part. Can you feel hair on your shoudlers or forehead? The weight of your shirt? Do your arms feel loose or stiff at your side? Can you feel your heart beat?
Stop! Don’t act immediately
Take a deep breathe
Observe what is happening, what am I responding to?
Pull back and put it in perspective.
Fact or opinion? What’s the bigger picture? What would someone else do? Practice what works – what is the best thing to do for me, for others and for this situation.
Working backwards from 5, use your senses to list the things you notice around you (pay attention to the things you might not always notice).
5 things you can hear
4 things you can see
3 things you can touch
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Think in categories
Choose 1 or 2 categories such as ‘musical instruments’ ‘ice cream flavours’ or ‘ mammals’. List as many things from each category as you can.
Need to talk to someone?
If you are a child or young person and need some mental health help please talk to someone about how you are feeling. If you don’t feel you can talk to a family member or someone at school, consider some of the helplines or text support below. You are not alone.
The wellbeing and emotional support teams in schools service is designed to help children and young people ages 5-18 years access mental health and wellbeing support early on in educational settings. It's all about ensuring children and young people can get access to the right help as early as possible.
The Reach4Wellbeing team supports and promotes the emotional wellbeing of young people and parents of primary school age children through interactive online group programmes, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) principles.
Other helpful links
Kooth is a really good website which offers online counselling and support by text, e-mail or by chatting on the forum for ages 10-18 years.
The Blues Programme is an internationally acclaimed wellbeing programme for young people aged 13-19. Over six weeks, it teaches emotional resilience, and reduces low mood and anxious thoughts. Crucially, it gets teenagers talking.
Worcestershire Chat Health offers is a service where 11-19 years olds can text 07507331750 to speak to their School Health Nurse for confidential advice and support around a variety of issues, including bullying, emotional health, relationship problems, alcohol and drugs.
Other worrying symptoms might include hearing voices, feelings of unreality, becoming very angry or violent, showing signs of an eating disorder or becoming very withdrawn. If you are a young person experiencing such thoughts, please talk to someone about how you are feeling and if you don’t feel you can talk to a family member, consider some of the helplines or text support. You are not alone.
If you are expressing suicidal thoughts, you should also see a doctor as soon as possible. Many people express suicidal thoughts because they are feeling overwhelmed and may not really want to act on them, but it is still very frightening.
Need help quickly?
If you have taken an overdose or self-harmed and you are concerned that the cuts are very deep or there is serious blood loss go to A&E or call 999.
Emergency Help and Helplines
NHS Crisis line
Whether you feel your mental health problems have become much worse or are experiencing problems for the first time, you may need help quickly.
You can phone the mental health helpline for urgent advice: 0808 196 9127 (free phone 24 hrs a day 365 days a year)
The team will offer advice, support and, if required, an assessment to understand how you are feeling. When calling the number, you can expect to speak to Mental Health Advisors and/or trained Mental Health Clinicians who will be able to listen to your concerns and help make appropriate plans with you to support you.
Search for an urgent mental health helpline in your area
Childline Not just for young children, Childline offers a helpline, online chat and e-mail advice for anyone up to the age of 19 years.
Shout Crisis textline Text for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.