The following mental health conditions and significant life events have links to the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. The individual links give information and self-help handouts for both young people and carers.
Anxiety and phobias
Anxiety is a feeling we all get in a situation that is threatening or difficult. The anxiety stops when you get used to the situation, when the situation changes, or if you just leave.
We all feel fed up, miserable or sad at times. These feelings don’t usually last longer than a week or two, and they don’t interfere too much with our lives. However, in depression your feelings don’t lift after a few days – they carry on for weeks or months or they are so bad that they interfere with your life.
Most of us, at some time in our lives, feel unhappy about the way we look and try to change it. If you are unhappy or stressed, it can be easy to focus on your weight and eating habits instead of the things that are bothering you. If this goes on for long enough, you might develop an eating disorder.
‘Psychosis’ is when your thoughts are so disturbed that you lose touch with reality. This type of problem can be severe and distressing.
Self-harm is a term used when someone injures or harms themselves on purpose rather than by accident. Common examples include `overdosing’ (self-poisoning), hitting, cutting or burning oneself, pulling hair or picking skin, or self-strangulation. Self -harm is always a sign of something being seriously wrong.
By our late teens, or early 20s, most of us have developed our own personality. Usually, our personality allows us to get on reasonably well with other people. For some of us, this doesn’t happen. For whatever reason, parts of your personality can develop in ways that make it difficult for you to live with yourself and/or with other people. You don’t seem to be able to learn from the things that happen to you.
We all feel stressed from time to time. It’s part of life – usually an understandable reaction to something happening in our life. But, if it goes on for too long, it can be uncomfortable, even overwhelming, and can affect your physical health.
Bereavement is a distressing but common experience. Sooner or later most of us will suffer the death of someone we love. We grieve after any sort of loss, but most powerfully after the death of someone we love. It is not just one feeling, but a whole succession of feelings, which take a while to get through and which cannot be hurried.
Divorce or separation
When parents no longer love each other and decide to live apart, a child can feel as if their world has been turned upside down. The level of upset the child feels can vary depending on how their parents separated, the age of the child, how much they understand, and the support they get from parents, family and friends.
ADHD –Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and hyperkinetic disorder
All the above terms describe the problems of children who are hyperactive and have difficulty concentrating. ADHD is a behavioural disorder which often becomes obvious in early childhood. The behaviours are due to underlying problems of poor attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity
Behavioural problems and conduct disorder
All children have moments when they do not behave properly and this is often nothing to worry about. However, some children have serious behavioural problems and they continue to behave badly for several months or longer, are repeatedly being disobedient, cheeky and aggressive. Some childen’s behaviour is out of the ordinary, and seriously breaks the rules accepted in their home and school.
Bipolar affective disorder (manic depression)
Bipolar disorder (BD) is a condition in which a young person has extreme changes of mood – periods of being unusually happy (known as ‘mania’ or ‘hypomania’), and periods of being unusually sad (‘depression’).
Surviving Adolescence – a toolkit
The teenage years can be an emotional assault course for all concerned. A gulf can grow between parents and their children during adolescence. One of the reasons many of us find it so hard is because it’s a time of rapid physical development and deep emotional changes.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS is a rare condition that usually starts in mid-teens but can occur earlier (but rarely before the age of 7 years). It has also been called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). The main symptom is extreme tiredness (fatigue) after little effort, which is not improved by rest, and not explained by physical or psychiatric illness.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT)
It is common for young people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) to experience mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and self-harm.
If someone identifies as LGBT it is likely that they will have dealt with a lot of extra stress from things like hiding your true identity, homophobia/bullying, parental or religious pressure, low self-esteem, fear of or rejection and loneliness.
When stress builds up it can lead to more serious mental health problems and it is important that a young person finds positive ways to cope with the stress.
Offer support – talking to someone and sharing a problem is the start of being able to deal with it. A young person may choose someone who will listen and be supportive such as a professional (GP, teacher, CAMHS worker, social worker), a friend, parents or their carers.
There is lots of online support, with information, forums, questions and answer pages, confidential phone lines and message boards. Below are some of the websites dedicated to helping young people. Others can be found by looking on the NHS choices website.
Being Gay is OK – a website with advice and information for young lesbian, gay and bisexual people
Tavistock and Portman Gender Identity Service – this is an NHS service which supports under 18s with gender identity issues in England.
Mermaids – support organisation for transgender young people (u 18s) and their families. The website a phone support line, email support, online support and runs support groups.
Look at our self-help section ‘looking after yourself’ for more advice on dealing with mental health problems.