Mental Health Common Problems
Self Harm, Relationships, Bullying, School, Peer Pressure, Isolation, Appearance, Bereavement
Self-harm is one of the most urgent mental health problems because, if you’re self-harming, you’re doing real damage to yourself every single time with the risk that things may get out of control.
Self-harm is when someone deliberately hurts, cuts or injures him/ herself. For some people, self-harm is seen as a way of coping with stress or painful feelings. It’s more common among teens than adults.
You may be cutting, punching, scratching or tearing at your skin, burning, bruising, pulling out your hair, driving dangerously or abusing drugs or alcohol. They are all forms of self harm.
Some people self-harm regularly or over a long period of time, others might self harm only once or a few times.
Either way, if you self harm it's very important that you seek help and support. It might seem that nobody understands what you're going through or that you are alone but remember there IS help available
SPOTTING THE SIGNS OF SELF HARM IN A FRIEND
Despite what it may seem, self-harm is NOT a cry for help and attention. Often the injuries are deliberately hidden from other people and the person who is self harming probably feels guilty or ashamed. If you think a friend is self harming, don’t criticise them, they need help and support.
Here’s what to look for:
- Continuing cuts, scratches or bruises that never seem to heal properly.
- Unexplained scars or cuts on top of scars.
- Staying apart from others and seeming down or angry a lot of the time.
- Wearing long sleeves and or covering their legs even in warm weather.
- People who self harm might have other problems such as an eating disorder, drug or alcohol abuse
Having a happy positive relationship is good for your mental health, this goes for all relationships like with your parents, family, friends & boy / girlfriends.
When a relationship is going well it can be the best feeling in the world. When it's not going so good there are feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, rejection and isolation.
If you find yourself in a relationship that is abusive, be that emotionally, physically or sexually, it's time to get out. You may be fearful of ending a relationship, afraid that you will be lonely or that you will miss that person. And it is normal to remember all the good times but don’t forget about the bad times – focus on these and remember the times you felt really bad or afraid – this will help you to leave the relationship. And remember you deserve to be treated well and with respect.
You may be confused about your sexuality and how you identify yourself – are you gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?
If you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual then relationship issues are likely to be more complicated because this may also involve the issue of coming out to friends and family. At a time when emotions and hormones are confused anyway, this is a real challenge. But remember there are many other people out there just like you. You are not alone.
If you are getting involved sexually then it makes sense to know about the risks and do something about them. Remember the age of consent is 17. Find out about contraception and how to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections.
Bullying is common in Ireland, especially at school. The problem is, if you are being bullied, it can be hard to talk about it. But this is what has to happen! It’s not your fault it started but you can do something to stop it.
Telling a parent, a teacher, a youth/sports group leader or someone in a position of authority who can help, is very important. If you find it too difficult or you’re frightened, ask a friend to support you and be with you when you talk about the bullying.
There are differences in how boys and girls bully. It's more common for boys to do something physical e.g. fighting, stealing, name calling and breaking things while it's common for girls to use psychological pressure like giving someone the 'silent treatment' or texting/cyber bullying.
Are you being bullied now?
- If you’re already being bullied, number one action is to talk to someone. Most schools have guidelines to stop bullying.
- Believe in yourself. Don't believe what the bully says of you. You know that it's not true.
- The difficulty lies with the bully, not you, and help is available to stop it.
- Try not to show that the bully has upset you - they may become bored with getting no reaction from you and stop.
- If you are a victim of cyber or text bullying, don’t reply. Just make sure you tell someone what’s going on.
You spend a lot of your life at school so it’s not surprising that it’s the place where many problems happen, such as bullying or issues with friends. But sometimes, school can also be part of the problem itself.
Perhaps the biggest stress is around exam time. Waiting for exam results is a nerve racking experience – especially when you are expecting important results from exams. You might feel nervous and stressed leading up to results day, however don’t worry as this is a normal experience and a little bit of stress can actually help you get motivated for dealing with problems and pressure.
Remember, if you fail an exam you are not a failure - you are still a good person, just a good person who failed an exam. Usually exam failure only means you have to repeat, so there's a delay of plans, not the end of the world. Alternatively it may lead you to change your plans to something you are more suited to.
Let your teachers know if you are feeling undue stress. Check out if you school has a school counsellor.
It is quite possible that we all experience some form of peer pressure at some point in our lives. It may be that we feel pressured into smoking, drinking or taking drugs. We may also feel pressured into embarking on sexual relationships that we are in no way ready for.
It is important to remember that you are you and you should only do things that you want to or feel comfortable doing. Even if your friends don't actively put any pressure on, you may feel pressure yourself because everyone is doing these things around you - but that doesn't mean you have to. The important thing is to be confident in yourself and to develop at the pace you feel comfortable with.
You don’t have to live in the middle of nowhere to feel like you’re all on your own. It’s just as possible to feel isolated in the middle of a crowded school yard.
All kinds of things can set you apart – your sex, your colour, your height, your weight, being serious about school, or just looking different. You can also feel lonely even though everyone else thinks you’re confident and you’ve got loads of friends.
If you are struggling with isolation, it's very important not to just give up and cut yourself off from other people. Joining after-school clubs, sports, music classes, etc. are all great ways to meet people and to put yourself out there. The more things you get involved with, the more confidence you will get, which will help you break out of the vicious circle.
Don't wait on your friends or people to contact you - if you haven't heard from them for a while it's not because they don't care, it's more likely that they are really busy with other things. So drop them a text asking them how they are, or Bebo them and ask to meet up.
Everyone feels a bit lonely at some stage or other - you can change this by making the first move. The key is to not wait on others to get in touch!! Remember these feelings do pass.
When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Are you unhappy with your weight, looks, clothes or style? Are you sure you can see yourself as you really are?
If you’re not happy, then you’re not alone. Studies show that dissatisfaction with personal appearance is now one of the leading causes of mental stress among teens.
Media pressure has made us all much more aware of the way we look, surrounded as we are with airbrushed perfection in the magazines and on tv. There’s also pressure just to ‘fit in’ with the crowd. But teenagers develop at such different rates so it sometimes takes a little while to find a style you feel comfortable with.
This stress has been felt by girls for a long time, but now many boys feel equally pressured. If you are reacting by extreme dieting or eating disorders, then you need to seek professional help straight away. Because your body is still developing there could be long term consequences to drastic behaviours.
If you are worried talk to your parents, friends or someone that you trust.
Losing someone close to you, whether it’s a friend or family member, is really hard to cope with. It’s especially shocking when you’re young and if this is your first close experience of death. We all can react very differently, especially in what we look for from others.
Some of us need to have people close because they feel it’s the best help you can get. Others don’t want everyone getting in their face and want to work it out for themselves. Or it may happen that your real feelings don’t come out until much later.
However you react, death changes you and it can push you to see your life in different ways. Not everyone sees it simply as depressing - it can make you realise that life is short you just need to make the most of it. Or you may find that the shock of it stops your life in its tracks. You can’t even be bothered to do your make-up, you lose interest in everything around you.
You may also be confused at how your feelings change over time. Everyone grieves differently and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you’re ready to move on, or angry if someone else in your family is still more visibly affected.
Remember that even though you'll never forget, in time you will be able to let go without feeling disloyal or guilty. Just give yourself time.
Share your feelings with family and close friends if and when you feel ready. Remember they are probably feeling the same even though they may not show it. It is true that a problem shared is a problem halved and in talking to others you not only will feel better, you will help them to feel better too.