Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, 6 – 12 February, is all about making a difference to the lives of children and young people across the UK. The awareness week is organised and promoted by the charity Place2Be. The theme this year is “Let’s Connect.” 

Today, as part of our week-long celebration of Children’s Mental Health Week, we are pleased to introduce a young guest author. Lucy is a member of the Junior Start Well Board* in Powys, and writes about her life as a high school pupil here in Mid Wales.

Maintaining good mental health may come as a struggle and is a constant balancing act. However, it does not always have to be a difficult and negative experience. 

As a teenager (I’m 15 years old) I can really appreciate how complicated our continuously changing lives are and living in the moment allows me to relate to and understand many problems teenagers are facing currently. Whether that would be post COVID struggles such as social anxiety and work overload, or simply exam stresses to friendship and relationship problems. 
All the listed above are completely understandable and relatable issues for many at the moment, and it would be inconsiderate not to address them. If you find yourself in any one of these situations where you’re not sure how to balance your head with your heart and maintain a sensible level of emotion, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help.

It is not often thought about, but we all have a mental health, and almost 100% of what we do will impact that mental health some way or another. Be it good or bad. This is where the balancing comes into practice. 

Changing lives and changing emotions, will mean a changing headspace. Here is what appears scary. Uncontrollable thoughts and feelings will arise, that will weigh you down like the devil and angel. None of which can be predicted. Way to dramatise, right? But that is how we feel. 
Finding ourselves can be a daunting experience; social image and acceptance are crucial in a young person’s life, however much they tell us that it doesn’t matter. Of course, it’s built into society, and no amount of preaching will fix that problem. On the one hand, having something to work toward, and maintain yourself for, is always an asset in life. On the other hand, don’t be fooled into a negative mindset of focusing on others’ opinions of you.

High school is like juggling balls of fire. You take your eye off the ball, and all hell breaks loose. Of course, in reality it’s not that deep, but try telling me that when friendships are broken, and secrets are spilled the day before I have an important exam. So how do we cope with stresses like this?

The simplest answer: Take a chill-pill. Sit down and just think. Remove any social device from your presence and commit to a full connection with your emotions. Ask yourself, how am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? Is this a normal feeling? Or a new feeling? What is the best way to get rid of this feeling?

A feeling of overwhelm and confusion is best dealt with in a way which works for you. Be it, writing it down on a piece of paper – and burn it later if you want – (this works best for me), messaging a friend or family member to let out your emotions, and have a little rant, even recording a voice note and then deleting it after. Any way you can use to release your emotions is beneficial for your mental health. Even the smallest of things. Imagine wringing out a dirty wet sponge. All that weight and dirt and grime has built up until you can take no more. The only way is out.

All being said, the best way to aid a situation like this, is to avoid it all together. As I mentioned, High School is an unpredictable place, where we can be dragged into all sorts of issues that are beyond our control. But let’s back up and take a look at what is within our control.

Having a healthy work / life balance is wildly important for anyone, and in school it’s just the same. Attitude going into classes will determine how the teachers view you and your values. And remember; respect goes both ways. The best way to enjoy school is to be honest, open, and caring to all around you. That will make school life easier. In turn this should take stress off exams, as you will start to enjoy your classes. 

As for friendships and relationships, they will fluctuate with time, so don’t let that put you off. We can’t hold on to something that is not meant to be. And to be honest, try and avoid being petty. Life’s too short to hold a grudge.

The main person in control of your emotions is you. So do things that make you happy, have friends that make you happy, and go places that make you happy.

Having experienced many of the things above myself, I hope this advice will act as an understanding of what we go through as teenagers. From one to another.

*Junior Start Well Board is a group of young people aged 11 – 17 years of age who meet every month to talk about the issues affecting young people. The purpose of the group is to listen to the views and the opinions of their peers and provide a voice for young people in Powys, so that they can feedback and contribute to decisions that affect them. Based on these conversations, they ask to meet with the services in Powys who are best placed to listen and respond or look at setting up any new projects in response to need.

Photos from unSplash – Nick Fewings

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