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Author: Eleanor Segall

Self harm in Teens- How to help

If you are a teenager in significant distress, you may feel the urge to self harm. This often happens when things are too painful to handle and you are unsure of how else to deal with your pain. Young Minds say that sometimes it can feel like the ‘only way to let those feelings out’, even though in reality there is support out there for you. Social media showing others self harming can also unfortunately encourage you to harm yourself as a way of coping, particularly if you are struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental illness.

The charity Young Minds notes that 10% of 15-16 year olds self harm and it is very common, affecting one in 12 people in the UK.

The NSPCC adds that, ‘For many young people, self harm can feel like a way to cope with difficult feelings or to reduce tension. The physical pain of hurting themselves can feel like a distraction from the emotional pain they’re struggling with.’

They go on to say that if you have depression or anxiety, low self esteem or feeling unworthy, been bullied or feel lonely, have experienced abuse (sexual, emotional, physical) or neglect, are grieving or struggling with family relationships or are feeling angry, numb or out of control, then these are risk factors for self harming. Sometimes illnesses like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia will feature self harm behaviours. 

Self harming behaviours will bring only temporary relief to mental health problems and can be dangerous. There are healthier ways to cope and recover if you already self harm- there is a way to get better.

Psycom says that ‘Helping teens recover from self-harm is understanding why they do it in the first place. There isn’t a simple answer to this question but, in general, some teens use self-harm to relieve tension by stimulating endorphins while others use self-harm to feel physical pain instead of emotional numbness. Stress and pressure, anxiety, and depression are all associated with self-harm in adolescence.’

So as a parent, guardian or friend of another teen you are concerned about, What are the signs to look out for?  

Signs will vary from person to person but may include:

1) Wearing long sleeves and covered clothing all the time and being secretive when undressing- this may be to hide self harm scars, cuts or bruises. 

2) Unexplained bruises, cuts and scars on their body (this could also be a sign of abuse from another person). Wounds that don’t seem to heal and get worse over time.

3) Talking frequently about harming themselves and self injury behaviours  and watching self harm videos (or following Instagram accounts).

4) Collecting sharp items for self harm use.

5) Avoidance of friends and family, spending more time at home.

6) Depression, low self esteem and self blame.

7) Finding blood stains on clothing or blood in their room/ in tissues and bandages. If they are stockpiling bandages too this is a worry.

8) Engaging in risky behaviours such as drinking or drug taking and outbursts of anger.

How can we help a young person who is self harming and needs treatment?

If you are the young person- Talk to someone you trust- your GP or psychiatrist, a parent, relative, teacher or another trusted friend. The best thing to do is speak to your doctor as they will have seen this before.

You may also need an assessment with the Children and Adolescent Mental health services (CAMHS) as your self harm could be part of wider mental illness/ distress. 

In the immediate- if you have injuries that need treating and you can’t sterilise it yourself, speak to a trusted family member or go straight to your doctor or walk in centre. If you are very injured, you will need to stem blood flow and go straight to Accident and Emergency in hospital, if your GP can’t treat it themselves.

As a parent you will need to provide emotional support,  unconditionally as they adapt to recovering from self harm behaviour. Your teen will be in emotional pain  and need empathy as they try to break the addictive cycle that self harm can bring.

Psycom recommends making time to connect one to one, helping your teen to destress and have a slower, calmer schedule as they recover (including relaxing activities such as walking, mindfulness and reading ), speaking to a school counsellor or psychiatrist and accompanying your teen to appointments and creating a list of friends or professionals to phone.

With early identification and good support networks, self harm behaviours can be managed. It is important to seek professional help.

Helplines such as the Samaritans 116 123 can be of help to people managing self harm behaviours.  Young Minds and Childline also have crisis text lines and see the Mix and Me Two apps too. At Teen Calm, we send subscription boxes to teens struggling with anxiety and mental health conditions. See more at www.teencalm.com

Dealing with exam stress as a teen

If you’re a teenager of school or college age, you will worry about exams. Essays, coursework, exams by memory, subjects you find difficult and knowing you have to get GCSE and A level grades in order to progress in life means the pressure can be high. Having to choose subjects at such a young age to determine your future path can also be stressful.

Additionally, if you are a teen with mental health issues or have additional needs, having to think about exams can be daunting. You may need extra support from parents, teachers and teaching assistants or have to take fewer exams in order to cope. It very much depends on the individual, how much you are able to do academically and cope with emotionally.

The most important thing is to not be hard on yourself and to do what is right for you. Exam grades are important for careers later in life, but you need to look after your own emotional health too.

Signs of stress 

First of all it is vital to recognise signs of stress. You may experience frequent worries, insomnia, have headaches and stomach pains, not want to eat, feel irritable, feel lower than normal and hopeless about the future. If you start to have panic attacks or depression and are unable to function or feel better, you will need to see your GP to help you manage what is going on.  

The NHS advises, ‘’Having someone to talk to about their work can help. Support from a parent, tutor or study buddy can help young people share their worries and keep things in perspective. Encourage your child to talk to a member of school staff who they feel is supportive if you think your child is not coping. It may also be helpful for you to talk to their teachers. Try to involve your child as much as possible.’’

Speak to someone you trust

Additionally to this, the mental health charity Young Minds gives tips for teens who are struggling with their health and the pressure of exams. They advise several things to help, including:

‘’1) Let your trusted friends and family know you are struggling so they can be there to support you and offer a listening ear. You don’t have to go through this alone.

2) Ask for help from your school and teachers to give you more support and resources

3) Find a study group or start your own – this can help you feel less isolated and build friendships, helping to relieve stress

4) Be kind to yourself and write a list of all your achievements. ‘’ (Young Minds)

The charity ChildLine also seems to agree with the above advice. They recommend that as well as talking to teachers and trusted friends, that speaking with a counsellor may also help in some cases. You can speak to a counsellor at school, through a charity or be referred by a doctor.

Some stress busting tips that they recommend include taking breaks for 20 minutes each hour, giving yourself something to look forward to, planning exam revision in a specific time slot  and making sure you make time for self care, sleep, eating well, relaxation and exercise.

Revising for exams means you may compare yourself to your friends. Try not to compete or constantly look at social media as this will make you feel worse, you may feel not good enough. 

What to do if I am a teen or parent of a teen with bad anxiety?   

If exam stress triggers your anxiety badly, it is important to go and see your GP and also try to practice anxiety management strategies- including talking to loved ones or a close friend,  relaxation techniques, meditation and visualisation, calming music, warm baths, journaling your fears on paper, creating some art and reducing time spent on the internet/ screens. If anxiety is particularly high, a doctor may want you to try medication or counselling. 

Counselling can help to unpack worries in a safe environment and if you are a teen, you can work with therapists that understand the needs of your age group.

As a parent, make sure you don’t pressurise your child or heap criticism on to them if they are struggling. Be there as a support and a listening ear. Help them find a safe, quiet place to revise and be there as a positive sounding board. You can also give your teen small rewards to help motivation. If you are very concerned about the impact exam stress is having on your child, please go with them to their GP.

Child Line have an art box resource  to help deal with stress here: https://www.childline.org.uk/toolbox/art-box/#Howtouse

Here at Teen Calm, we provide wellness subscription boxes for teens struggling with anxiety. Each month, we have goodies to send to your child to help them with their fears and let them now they aren’t alone.

Caring for an Anxious Teen? You May be Forgetting Something Vital

In today’s hectic world, self care is becoming more important than ever. With work stress and demands on our time, parents are more overstretched than before. Parents are also working longer hours than ever, in a bid to provide for their family.

What if you are a parent or guardian of a child with mental health issues or SEN (special educational needs)? How do you cope and look after yourself whilst being a good, loving parent to your child? What do you do in times of trauma?

Self care is defined as ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.’ (online dictionary)

Erin Leyba writes for Psychology Today that,  ‘It’s essential that parents care for themselves – first, for their own well being, but also because any effort they put into self-care also has huge payoffs for their children. When parents “fill their own cups,” they have more patience, energy, and passion to spread to their families.’

If your child or a teen you know is going through a trauma, there are ways to help. For example, if they are in hospital due to illness or are unwell at home, you may feel overwhelmed and struggle to cope. You may also feel helpless seeing your child in pain and become anxious or overprotective as a result.

If you are seeing your child go through acute anxiety or depression or have a reaction to any trauma they face, whether it is illness, bullying or struggling at school, then as a parent we react by putting them first. It’s natural, but the longer the trauma continues for our child, the longer it continues for us too, and while no self-care is sustainable for a short time, after a while something is going to give.  So how do you care for yourself alongside this? Here are 8 possible ways to give you an idea.

Psychotherapist Stefan Deutsch did some research into this area, specifically looking at the epidemic of ‘burn out’ amongst adults and parents. He comments, ‘’The self love needed for self care was missing. Academicians use terms like self esteem, self worth, self support, self care but rarely self love. That is left to the spiritual community. People don’t realise that taking care of their own needs; eating, drinking, brushing their teeth, showering, wearing clean clothes, going to work are all acts of self love. My own clients conceded that they were on the bottom of their Totem Pole of priorities. Everything in their life came before their own health and wellbeing; the job, the house, the kids, the family, the car, finances, and so forth. The problem is that people have a hard time reaching for balance in their lives.’’

Finding balance and taking care of yourself are vital in difficult times (and a good pattern to get into for every day too). Here are some strategies that may help you manage stress:

1)  Write it out– write out how you are feeling as a stream of consciousness on paper, getting all thoughts and worries out of your brain. The simple act of sharing it and writing it down, means you can move forward knowing its out of your head and you can come back to it at any time. The act of journaling freely for 20 minutes can really help reduce stress.

2) Talk it out– confide in a trusted friend, family member or therapist about how you are feeling. Going to counselling in times of trauma or shortly after can help you to seek support and process all that is going on. Having a cup of tea with a friend and a good chat can also be helpful.

3) Schedule an hour to see a friend or do something for you– parents are often short on me time. Make sure you schedule in time for yourself away from everything that’s going on. This could be a phone chat or going out for dinner or the cinema with a friend. Or something as simple as carving out time for you (and you alone) to watch a comforting film or TV show.

4) Do something special with your child – a trip if they’re well enough. Or something at home – a takeaway and a film, baking a cake together, watch them play their video games…sit and watch their favourite YouTube channel with them.

5) Walk in nature. Nature is soothing and walking in fresh air and getting some exercise can help clear your head and put things in perspective.

6) Make a gratitude list and write 3 things you are grateful for on it every day. This can help with boosting positive mindset.

7) Eating well and sleeping: Make sure that alongside caring for your child, you eat well and try to get enough sleep. If you are struggling with this, reach out for support from your GP. Sleep is vital for replenishing our bodies and encouraging resilience.

8) Medical help. If you are struggling to cope with your life situation or think you may be depressed or highly anxious , it may help to see your doctor or psychiatrist to see if you need anti depressant or anxiety medication. You can also self refer to IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme) in the UK for therapy sessions if needed, which have shorter waiting times than the general psychology list.

You can also reach out to various charities such as Mind or Young Minds for support and helplines including the Samaritans are open 24/7 for judgement-free listening.

You cannot pour from an empty cup, so in times of stress, you can learn to unwind and take care of yourself.  Make self care and self-love your priority as well as looking after your child.

At Teen Calm, we provide subscription boxes for teens with anxiety. You can learn more at www.teencalm.com            

How to get better sleep

Lying in bed staring at the ceiling and feeling exhausted is never fun. Good sleep is important for our mental and physical health. As a teenager, you may be experiencing a lack of sleep or feel that you don’t need it as you’re ‘too busy’. Getting a good night’s sleep helps our bodies to repair and grow and as you enter your teen years, this is more integral than ever. Additionally, in some people, mental health issues can start in teen years and be made worse by lack of sleep. So make sure you get your rest.

According to the NHS,

‘A minimum of 8 to 9 hours good sleep on school nights is recommended for teens.’

There are some sleep researchers that recommend up to 9 and a half hours, but this depends on the person. Some people need more sleep to function better.

Dreams.co.uk, a bed company in the UK, has shared some interesting facts about sleep. Did you know that humans spend a third of their life sleeping? Among young people, ‘dysania’ (or struggling to get out of bed in the morning) is very common with many teens finding it hard to get to school or wake up groggy.

So how can you get better sleep? Here are some tips to help:

1) Practise sleep hygiene.

The National Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as ‘a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.’ This can include limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes, this level of nap can improve alertness. It is also important to increase exposure to natural light, as well as darkness to maintain a positive sleep-wake cycle.

2) Avoid caffeine close to bedtime

Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep your brain and body alert, often found in coffee, tea, chocolate or coca cola. Make sure you limit them close to bedtime as they can stop you falling asleep and effect sleep quality.

3) Exercise for better sleep

Regular exercise, out in daylight is said to improve sleep patterns. If you are struggling to sleep regularly, it may be good to take up a sport or walk more, instead of getting the bus.

4) Be careful with what you eat before bed

Fried, fatty, spicy and heavy foods can cause painful heartburn which can keep you awake. Make sure you limit these before bedtime, if they are a problem for you.

5) Make your bedroom sleep friendly and at the correct temperature

The Sleep Foundation suggests that a bedroom should be between 60 and 67 degrees for optimal sleep. They also suggest limiting screens with bright light before bed and adjusting the room lighting to be low.

The aim is to make your bedroom as relaxing as possible so invest in good, soft pillows and duvets and a comfortable mattress. If you are struggling to get good sleep, you can buy blackout curtains and face masks, or ear plugs and ‘white noise’ machines which have a relaxing effect. In the middle of summer if the room is too hot, invest in a fan or air conditioning unit if possible.

6) Establish a bedtime routine

A regular bedtime routine can help the body to learn that now is time to rest and switch off. There are many routines that can help, experiment to see what works for you.This could be listening to calming music, dimming the lights, having a warm bath or shower, reading quietly and limiting screen time for the hour before you go to sleep.

Some people find switching off their phone or putting it in a drawer to be helpful. Relaxation practices like guided meditation can also help.Always go to bed and try and wake at the same time each day so you can develop a good routine to aid sleep.

7) If you’re a parent listen to your teen

Teens often have problems and worries which can stop them from falling asleep. As a parent or guardian, they may need a listening air and guidance. Remember to stay calm and listen to them if they want to talk to you about it. Don’t push them to talk before they are ready.

Teens may be stressed over school exams and homework worries, relationships and friendships, bullying, social activities and any other fears or worries going on in their lives. If they have fallen in with a bad group of friends, this can be a worry too. Always be there non judgementally as much as you can be.

If you are worried about your teen’s mental health and lack of sleep or notice they are engaging in risky behaviour, it’s important to speak to their GP with them and you can also get in touch with their teachers, mentors and charities to help. The Samaritans free helpline in the UK is 116 123

Lastly, remember that getting into a good sleep pattern can really help to benefit you as a teenager, making life feel that much better.

At Teen Calm, we promote winding down before bed, getting a good night’s rest and finding your inner calm. See more at www.teencalm.com

Self care for Teens

Self care is important for anyone of any age, but in our teen years as our bodies and minds are constantly changing and adapting, it is vital. Self care is looking after your physical and emotional health and this can be any activity that assists with making you feel happy, healthy and positive.

Everyone has varying methods of self care. Some love to take soothing bubble baths, others enjoy exercise such as yoga or running and find it relaxing. Some want to spend time with friends or family face to face or go on day trips. For other people, self care could be curling up with a good book or TV show, meditating to clear your mind or partaking in a much loved hobby or craft, promoting mindfulness.

Practising self care can not only improve your own mental health, but it also helps relieve the pressures on yourself and family life too. As a teen it can sometimes be challenging relating to your parents and arguments can be frequent, particularly if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, school friendships or relationships. Self care activities can help calm you and assist a positive atmosphere.

Whitney Bell at Teen Vogue says,

‘Self care isn’t always bubble baths and pretty candles, sometimes it’s just getting out of bed, taking a shower, and reminding yourself how amazing you are. Self-love is meeting yourself exactly where you are at with compassion and love. It is knowing what serves you, and removing the things that don’t. Our worth isn’t determined by the clothes we wear, or by how many people have crushes on us.

Outside validation might feel great for a second but it will quickly pass. Everyone’s mental health journey is their own…Allow space for your growth and remind yourself of your worth by investing in your health, your head, and your heart.’

Many teens struggle with self esteem and self worth as they develop into adults. It is important to focus on mindful techniques like repeating positive affirmations about yourself such as ‘I am worthy’ or ‘I am enough’. Some recommend saying these daily to yourself in the mirror or writing them out in a journal.

What can help promote better mental health and self care?

1) Get out in nature

In the busy technology focused world we live in, nature can be very soothing. A walk in the park, on the beach or by a lake can help calm and relax us. The fresh air and exercise can also help to clear the mind. Similarly, gardening has a soothing effect, especially if you are growing a bright happy plant like sunflowers. Try it for yourself.

2) Spend time with friends or family

This could be face to face over a cup of tea, if you feel able. If you are struggling with a mental health condition and feel up to it, you can video chat or talk on the phone to friends. Human contact makes us feel connected, less isolated but make sure it’s with a good friend and people you trust, that support you and make you feel good.

3) Learn a new hobby to beat stress

You could learn a new creative craft like sewing or knitting or if fashion and beauty is more your thing, take a make up course. You may want to take up a sport or if you like writing and social media, start a blog or Youtube channel. Whatever it is, it should help with your self care and not make you more stressed! Mindful crafts can be very healing. Other activities that help with distracting the mind include reading a good book or listening to calming music.

4) Take care of your physical health to boost mindset

Make sure you look after your physical care too- a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet and go to sleep at the same time each day. If you struggle with this, reach out to your support network to help if you have insomnia or anxiety. Listening to sleep hypnosis, deep muscle relaxation or a guided meditation can really help you to switch off at night. Additionally, if you are a teen struggling with an eating disorder, your self care could mean you need to reach for further support and speak to a specialist to help you. Additionally, make sure to stay away from drugs and alcohol, which can be depressants.

5) Its OK to let it out, cry or journal

If you are going through a hard time, it’s good to talk and most importantly to cry to release those pent up emotions. You can also write in a private journal about how you are feeling or talk to a trusted friend or parent. Don’t bottle it up as it will make you feel worse. In addition to regular self care, it is vital to speak to your GP or psychiatrist if you are struggling. You may need medication or to be referred for therapy, two other very important forms of self care. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

See this Mind page for a list or organisations that can help you.

Teen Calm is a subscription box for anxious teens, learn more at www.teencalm.com

Helping Teens with Depression

As you enter your teen years, lots of changes can occur. Hormones, new expectations at school and in relationships can put pressure on you, making you feel sad, emotional and exhausted. Did you also know that in some cases, this can lead to depression? Depression is a mental health condition that can sap your energy, increase anxiety and cause changes in your sleep and eating patterns. In very bad cases, it can cause you to stop attending school or college, impact on functioning and cause frightening thoughts of self harm. 

It is still unclear why depression often starts in teen years, although doctors believe that the chemical changes at puberty can cause changes in brain chemistry which can lead to depression. Additionally, there is evidence that it could run in families and often can be triggered by a stressful or traumatic life event.

If you are struggling with depression and you want some tips on how to manage it as a teenager or are a parent of one, look no further.

The NHS says,

Depression is more than simply feeling fed up or unhappy for a few days…when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months  Some people think depression is trivial and not a real health condition. They’re wrong. It is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression is not a sign of weakness or something you can ‘snap out of’ by ‘pulling yourself together’. The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.’     

1) How do I know it’s depression?

It is normal for teenagers to ‘act out’, behave badly and be more grumpy or sad than usual as this is part of life transition. However, depression is greater than that- it takes over the mind, making them despairing, angry, very low and overwhelmed. They may be more tearful and start thinking negatively about themselves (low self esteem) and others. Common thoughts are feeling shame, failure and lack of worth, due to the depression. 

Signs to look out for are if you or your teen is withdrawing from friends and family and spending lots of time alone. Depression causes low energy and motivation, meaning socialising often takes a back seat, especially if anxiety is also present. 

Other symptoms of depression include hopelessness, irritability, frequent crying or tearfulness , fatigue, difficulty concentrating, not coping at school or home, sensitivity to criticism, aches and pains, self harm thoughts- including thoughts of suicide.  Some may use drugs or alcohol to mask the pain of depression or get involved with the wrong crowd, but this doesn’t happen in every case. 

If your teen is entering crisis point with their depression and is harming themselves, suicidal or engaging in reckless behaviour, please seek professional advice from a GP or psychiatrist who are qualified to diagnose depression.

The most important thing is noticing any ‘out of character’ behaviour. Sometimes depression can happen alongside other mental health conditions too. 

2) Communication  

It is vital as a parent of family member to keep lines of communication open as depression needs treatment as soon as possible. If you are concerned, then speak to your teen in a loving, kind way about it. Keep dialogue open with them and ask them what is going on for them and how they are feeling. You must listen  patiently and not ask too many questions. This help guide says that you should focus on:

Listening not lecturing- don’t pass judgement on what you are hearing from your teen and let them know you are there for them unconditionally.

Acknowledge their feelings and help them to feel safe and secure.

Trust your gut about what you are being told and work with your teenager, help them gently to move forward without being too pushy or patronising. 

3) Treatment and Help  

Depression can be across a wide spectrum from mild to severe. Depending on the symptoms your teen is experiencing, a doctor may recommend a wide range of treatments. If it is very mild, a doctor may recommend ‘watchful waiting’, to see if it goes away on its own, coupled with attending group therapies. However, if it is more severe and affecting daily functioning and the patient is very ill, a doctor would prescribe anti depressant medication (such as SSRIs) and refer you to talking therapies such as CBT- cognitive behavioural therapy, a therapy challenging negative thought patterns and behaviour. Anti depressants boost the production of serotonin in the brain.

If the depression is severe or not responding to treatment, your GP can refer you to a specialised mental health team for treatment by a psychiatrist or psychologist. In the NHS, this will be under CAMHS.  This could mean taking different medication that’s right for you, but is all trial and error. If you need to get private treatment yourself, you can but it is expensive in the UK.

Exercise is also meant to help boost the production of seretonin and making small lifestyle changes e.g removing stressors, sleep hygiene for good sleep and looking at diet can also help.

If you are worried about a teen with depression and/or other symptoms of illness, please seek medical advice and involve the child’s school and teachers too. They should know they are never alone and they can be helped. Depression in teens can be treated.

Teen Calm subscription box is a new monthly treat box for those with depression and anxiety. See more here

Anxiety in Teens

Our teen years can be a time of fun, friends and parties. But they can also be a time of increased anxiety and vulnerability to mental health issues. We know that as children enter their teen years, there is an increased risk of anxiety and depression (and other mental illness), due to life and bodily changes.  As a teen, you want to fit in with your friends and developing anxiety during this time can mean that you feel different from others, even though it is very common. 

So what is anxiety?

Anxiety is a reaction to life stress, involving mind and body. It can be a survival system, when we perceive a danger or threat.  As a teen, you may be experiencing pressure with exams at school or stress at home, you are growing up and changing to become an adult and life can feel difficult. Things like dating or public speaking, making and sustaining friendships, money worries, become a priority, but they can be anxiety provoking- causing sensations such as racing heart, insomnia, shaking or blushing.

It can also lead to hyperventilation (shallow breathing), headaches and in worst cases, panic attacks. Adrenaline and cortisol ,a stress hormone, surge through the body, causing a reaction to the perceived stress.  This means sometimes that you may not interact with your family or your friends, isolating yourself and wanting to be alone. You may also have a change to eating habits or sleep or have stomach aches. 

A small amount of anxiety can be good as it motivates us to keep going despite pressure. However, in some people, it can turn into an anxiety disorder. 

What if it becomes an anxiety disorder? 

For some teens, anxiety gets taken a step further and becomes a key part of a mental health disorder such as anxiety disorders and phobias, depression or illnesses like PTSD.  Anxiety disorders can interrupt every day functioning, disrupting relationships at home, school and with friends, your teen may stop attending school if their anxiety is very high. There may also be a significant impact to academic grades and feeling overwhelmed with workload and life in general.  

Panic attack symptoms can seem very frightening, causing chest pain, hyperventilation, upset stomach, feeling like you are dying or having a heart attack, numbness or tingling, for example. It’s important that if your teen is experiencing panic attacks, to go to your GP and see if you can get a referral to CAMHS services. Therapy may be needed to provide strategies to cope.    

In 2018, NHS Digital and Young Minds released figures that said that 1 in 8 children in the UK aged between 5 and 19 has a diagnosable mental health condition. They also said that nearly a quarter of young women aged 17-19 has an emotional disorder and that the prevalence of those experiencing anxiety in the UK had increased by 48% from 2004 in 2017.

So, we know that teens are struggling with their mental health. More cases are being reported and as the stigma towards illness is falling, more are speaking out and reaching for support.

There is still not much known on the origin of anxiety disorders- it could be down to brain chemistry and genes (if your parent has suffered from a mental illness, you are more likely to) or down to life stress and circumstances. A teen experiencing a traumatic event could then go on to develop a mental health condition. 

How can you help?

Helpful strategies include encouraging self care- listening to calming music, good sleep practices, listening to relaxation recordings (guided meditations), making sure your teen is eating and drinking enough and sees their doctor or therapist . It is helpful to go with them to your doctor or find a therapist to help too. They can also call the Samaritans for non judgemental chat on 116 123.

It’s vital to speak to school and teachers to see if support can be given in terms of managing workload, friendships and emotional support during the school day, in order to ease them slowly back to attendance or more support.

If you worry that your teen is at crisis point (self harming or feeling suicidal for example) or you are a teen in crisis, it is important to speak to your doctor or local CAMHS team. If you are under a psychiatrist, it is best to go through their crisis team to seek support. In worst cases, you may have to go to Accident and Emergency. There are waiting lists for CAMHS, so you may need to seek private treatment if possible for you.

We created Teen Calm to help teens with anxiety, being part of a network of young people. For more on Teen Calm subscription box to help your teen see: www.teencalm.com 

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