This week’s (6-12 February) marks Children’s Mental Health Week and to mark it NSPCC Northern Ireland has offered advice for children and adults who may need help connecting with each other.
Darren Worth, Service Head of Childline said: “At Childline, we know that mental health is something that thousands of children across the UK are struggling with and it remains the number one concern that our counsellors speak to children about every day.
“Whilst some are grappling with anxiety, others are experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“Many of these children tell our counsellors Childline is the first place they’ve turned to and that they’ve not known who else to turn to.
“No matter what a child’s experience is, if they are struggling with their mental health, we believe that it is essential they get the support they need to help them cope quickly.
“That’s why this children’s mental health awareness week we want to remind all young people that Childline is here for them 24/7, whether that be on phone the or via an email or 121 chat.”
Advice for children:
- Talk to a trusted adult about how you are feeling and what is worrying you. This could be a parent, guardian, sibling over the age of 18, grandparent, teacher or a Childline counsellor. Sharing how you feel with someone you trust means that they can support you and give you ideas on how to cope. It will also help you feel less alone with your worries, and they can let you know that they will be here for you.
- Be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself like you would a friend and take the time to check in on your basic needs such as eating, drinking and resting.
- Take a break if you feel overwhelmed or are struggling to cope you could go for a walk or listen to some music to give yourself some headspace. Taking some deep breaths will also help you feel calmer and less panicked and you can visit Childline ‘s Calm Zone to find some activities that can help relax you.
- Try and build a healthy routine to give yourself some structure to your day. For example, you could set reminders on your phone to take regular breaks where you may read a book, go for a walk or ring a friend. Or you could get up earlier than normal and start your day with some deep breaths, some gentle exercise and have a healthy breakfast.
- Helping others or doing a random act of kindness can help you feel good about yourself and can distract you from your worries. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant; it could be as simple as offering to do a house chore like the washing up or making someone a cup of tea.
- Call Childline if you feel you have no-where else to turn or would like some extra support. Our counsellors are available 24/7 and you can get in touch on the phone on 0800 111 or online at childline.org.uk. Our trained counsellors are here for you and no worry is ever too
- Let them know you’re there for them, this will reassure them that you are on their side and it will remind them that they can come to you about anything.
- Try talking to them over text or on the phone, if they don’t feel able to talk in person.
- Be patient and staying calm and approachable, even if their behaviour upsets you
recognising that their feelings are valid and letting them know it’s okay for them to be honest about what it’s like for them to feel this way.
- Think of things you could do together to help them cope, like yoga, breathing exercises or mindfulness.
- Encourage them to talk to adult they trust like their GP, someone at their school or Childline. Especially if they’re finding it hard to talk at home.
- Take care of yourself and get support if you need to. Try not to blame yourself for what’s happening and stay hopeful.