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Tag: teenagers

Looking after your mental health during a low key Christmas

Since Covid 19 entered our lives, our way of life has had to change. We can’t see friends and family members face to face and we have just been through a lockdown to stop the virus spreading. As much of the country enters Tier 3 lockdown restrictions, what does this mean for a family Christmas and how will it impact our teens mental health?

Back in November, Professor Catherine Noakes, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said to the Guardian:

“We really have to be careful that we don’t just focus on what is going to happen in six weeks’ time..we will be better off planning.. and thinking of, actually, can we have a more low-key Christmas and new year this year?.”

Professor Gabriel Scally also added that a well ventilated, outdoor Christmas would be the best thing to stop the spread of the virus. The rules for this Christmas are as follows, from 23 December to 27 December we’ll all able be able to form a ‘Christmas bubble’. This bubble allows you to join up to two other households during this period. However, once you’ve decided which two households you want to spend time with you can’t change them. Your bubble remains the same throughout this period. (Age UK)

But what does this mean for our teens whose lives have changed immeasurably and who want be able to see much loved family members of friends?

Many teens want to go out to see friends, socialise, go to parties, but their freedom at what should be the most carefree time of their lives is being curtailed. Many have had to break up early from school to stop the spread of Covid 19.

Mind say on their website, ‘Christmas can be a tricky time, even without the pandemic. The news tends to assume we all want to have this big Christmas with family. We are all different. For some, a small Christmas might be a blessing.”

Christmas can be a time that many people, including teens will struggle with their mental health. They won’t be at school and even if they have been, classmates may have been off due to positive Covid cases. There is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Mind list the following reasons people may struggle with their mental health,

-Feel alone or left out because everyone else seems happy when you’re not
-Wish you didn’t have to deal with Christmas because of other events in your life or the pandemic
-Feel frustrated by other people’s views of a ‘perfect’ Christmas, if these feel different to your experiences
-Want to celebrate with someone who’s struggling, but can’t

Yet, there are ways to help make Christmas wonderful- such as making and posting Christmas cards to loved ones, doing relaxing activities like watching Christmas movies or drinking hot chocolate and video calling loved ones if you feel able.

However, the restrictions this Christmas may exacerbate mental health problems, with difficult and stressful experiences making it worse. It may also be harder to access much needed services this time of year.

What can help?

  • Be kind and gentle with yourself- the pandemic and your mental health issues are not your fault, don’t beat yourself up.
  • Talk to a trusted parent, friend, guardian or loved one about how you are feeling and what you need to cope – create a toolbox of coping methods together.
  • Communicate what you need to boost your mental health and get through Christmas this year.
  • If needed, speak to your GP and crisis services and get support or call Samaritans or text the Shout line (numbers below)
  • Plan nice activities such as using your Teen Calm box and things to do so you don’t feel lonely or isolated and make sure you are spending time with others for some of the time.
  • Take time out if you do need alone time, to rest and recuperate and explain this to your family.
  • If your mental health worsens and you feel suicidal or want to harm yourself, please reach out to your GP, psychiatrist, therapist or local CAMHS service crisis team.

If you are struggling this Christmas, call Samaritans on 116 123 or text Shout to 85258

Remember that with the roll out of the vaccine, we hope the pandemic will soon be a distant memory and that Christmas next year will be brighter. We at Teen Calm wish you a happy and healthy one.

Could your teen with anxiety also have autism or SEN? Here’s what you need to know.

Sometimes, when we’re focussed on the anxiety we may find that we’ve overlooked something else. The teenage years are undoubtedly testing times but is there something more at play?

What are special needs?

Each teenager and child will have different physical, social and emotional needs. They may also struggle with mental health conditions such as anxiety. But, as a parent or carer, what do you do if you suspect your child may have a special educational need (potentially including autism, other neurological differences like ADHD or emotional difficulties)? What if the anxiety is created by a wider need?

The charity Family Lives note that ‘’The term ‘Special Educational Needs’ is used to describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for children to learn than most children of the same age. Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are likely to need extra or different help from that given to other children their age. This help is known as special educational provision.’’

Children including teens can have different difficulties that can be classified as SEN by an accredited practitioner such as a psychiatrist, educational psychologist, occupational or speech therapist or a SENDCO inclusion leader in the school. Difficulties can include emotional and behavioural, such as low self esteem and lack of confidence, an inability to follow class instructions and ‘acting out’ at school/ aggression. In some cases, there may be anxiety and panic attacks or depression. Or, as we experienced, very few obvious difficulties until mental health issues arose, due to autistic ‘masking’. We’ll explain a bit more about that in a moment.

Children & teens may struggle with the academic side of school, struggling with reading, spelling, maths or grasping abstract concepts. Class activities can be difficult for a variety of reasons, especially if your child has a learning need. Some children also have speech and language or communication needs, and may have delays in this area, finding it hard to communicate with their peers or teacher and relate to other people. Others have a physical disability which makes life trickier for them to be in class or study at the same level. 

However, help is at hand!

In this blog, we will look at what to do if you think your teen has emotional difficulties and what to do if you suspect their level of anxiety could be related to autism.

Firstly it is important to note that in the UK education system, each child has the right to access learning at their own level. They must receive a balanced and wide curriculum, which can be differentiated, from Early Years to the later key stages at age 16-18. Most children with SEN will be educated in a mainstream school (some are home schooled or in specialist schools as it depends on each child). 

If you are concerned about your child/ teen:

1) Speak to the class teacher and school SENDCO to express your concerns

It is vital to have a good dialogue with the class teacher, who sees your child every day. It is important to express concerns about your child’s behaviour or mental health if it comes up and if they are struggling academically or with their peers. The teacher can set up a meeting with the school SEN Coordinator and this may give you greater clarity, especially if your child is falling behind other children. 

They can put into place plans of action, known as Individualised Education Plans (IEPs) to help your child in class. The teacher may recommend that your child needs one to one support from a teaching assistant, who will carry out the action points of the IEP.

If they are really struggling, in consultation with you, the SENCO may apply for an EHCP (formerly known as a statement of needs), where the school receives funding to best support the person, for example by hiring their own teaching assistant or equipment to help in class.

If your teen is under a psychiatrist, it is important to involve them separately to assess what is going on and note their symptoms. 

2)  See their GP and specialist: What if their anxiety is because of autism? How do I realise?

Raisingchildren.net.au  says that ‘Anxiety is a normal part of children’s development, but children and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can experience anxiety more intensely and more often than other children.’

They also comment, ‘Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) feel many of the same worries and fears as other children. But when children and teenagers with ASD get worried or anxious, the way they show their anxiety can look a lot like common characteristics of ASD.

If you are concerned your child may be on the autism spectrum, it is best to speak to your GP and get a referral to a specialist.

Symptoms of anxiety (and other conditions) can also be very similar to autism. These include:

  • Insisting on routine
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Tantrums and meltdowns
  • Social withdrawal
  • Obsessions and rituals   
  • Stimming (self stimulation) by rocking, spinning or flapping hands
  • Self harm eg biting, scratching, headbanging

You can get your teen assessed and it is best to rely on the advice of professionals such as GP doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, SENCOs and any therapists involved in your child’s care. It is also important to trust your gut feeling too as a parent.

There are a number of ways to assist with anxiety including exposure therapy, CBT, social stories to prepare for social situations. An occupational therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist can assist with this after an assessment.

Not all teenagers with anxiety will have autism. If your teen is struggling badly with anxiety, they can access medication and counselling through their GP or psychiatrist.

As a parent or carer, it is important to note your teens behaviour patterns and if you have a strong feeling that more support is needed or your teen is distressed and asking for further help , reach out for it. 

Some helpful charities;

YoungMinds
Stem 4
Mind
The Princes Trust
Heads Together

Other useful organisations;

Time to Change
Place 2 Be
SAMH

Teen Calm is a new subscription box for teens struggling with anxiety. Find out more here.

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.

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: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Feel Better

It’s essential you know what to do to give yourself a boost. Making self-care a routine part of your life will help you manage stress and anxiety, better cope with life’s challenges, and help you enjoy yourself more.

Even if you’re feeling pretty good right now, read-on so you’ll know what to do when you need a little lift.

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) Forest bathing

In the busy technology focused world we live in, nature can be very soothing.  This Harvard Medical School study shows just how much the Chill Factor of Nature can affect us.
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. 

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, its 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

The teen years bring an onslaught of changes. 

Hormones, new expectations at school, and relationships (both romantic and platonic) created added pressure, leaving teens feeling sad, emotional and exhausted. 

Sometimes, these feelings become more persistent, and amplified, and 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 this 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 serotonin and making small lifestyle changes eg 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 

Welcome to Teen Calm

Are you a teenager struggling with anxiety or depression? Want to feel part of a wider community of friends? Look no further than Teen Calm!

Teen Calm is a new subscription box for anxious teens, created by 13 year old Freya and her mum Cathy, who are based in the UK. Freya was diagnosed with autism last year in the midst of a mental health crisis of depression and anxiety. She is now recovering but both Freya and Cathy want to do something to help other teenagers in the UK and globally.

Children’s mental health services (CAMHS) in the UK are overstretched and often underfunded. Although mental health staff try their best and there is some good care available, there are long waiting lists and young people can slip through the net unless they are in crisis. Cathy and Freya wanted to make a product, Teen Calm, that is not only a home business, but can actually have an impact on those who are struggling.

‘Both Freya and I feel strongly, through our experience, that there is a major problem with children’s mental health services, and that there are tweens and teens all over the country who are anxious or depressed, and not getting the help they need. Of course, a subscription box can’t give them that help. But it can help let them know they are not alone, and give them techniques to lessen the impact.’

Cathy continues ‘Teen Calm is also something Freya and I could do together which got her off the sofa when things were bad with her depression.’

The main aims of Teen Calm subscription box are to help anxious teens feel more confident, giving them a sense of belonging. The box will be sent out monthly, containing positive products to help reduce anxiety such as a stress ball, fidget toy, bath bomb, notepad, pens, colouring sheet, pins, fairy lights, plus a motivational card. These can all be aids to help improve daily anxiety.

Boxes will start being sent out in February 2020 and will be customised each month. Soon you can buy gift cards for friends and family through the upcoming website. The aim is to go global and help teens with anxiety all over the world. Knowing you are part of a worldwide, supportive community can help other teens feel connected and less alone.

Teen Calm is a very personal project. As well as her mental health needs, creator Freya’s diagnosis of autism meant that she requires special educational needs support (SEND) for her school work and life needs. This is greatly expensive and sometimes, hard to access. Cathy told us,

‘Teen Calm also symbolises our very difficult mental health journey as a family, where the lack of SEND funding has made everything a battle and already vulnerable families are made more stressed and more oppressed. So many people feel like they are alone in going through this, and then they find the right Facebook group and realise they are NOT alone. That there are anxious children all over the country who are being failed by ‘the system’. Teen Calm can’t fix that. But we can help in a small way. And we can help to build a community and show people that they are not alone.’

Freya and Cathy hope to build a supportive network through Teen Calm,which in turn will help Freya, who has anxiety herself, too.

If you are a parent/ guardian and feel that a subscription to Teen Calm can help your child, please do get in touch. We aim for the boxes to be affordable and to provide a glimmer of hope to families up and down the country, whose teens may be struggling.

While our subscription box doesn’t replace medical intervention, we hope it can help brighten the lives of children and young people, forming a positive, proactive community that everyone can learn from and grow with. Battling anxiety and loneliness , one box at a time.

For more about Teen Calm see the website and follow us on social media.

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