Mental Health and Wellbeing
If you are struggling with news about the coronavirus and it’s affecting your mental health, we have put together a list of resources that you may find useful. Please see the bottom of the page with links to specific resources.
Growing up in the 21st century presents challenges to young people and at The Saint John Henry Newman Catholic School we do all we can to support our students’ wellbeing.
We want our students to flourish at The Saint John Henry Newman Catholic School in all aspects of their lives, intellectually, morally, socially and emotionally. The School takes the wellbeing of our students very seriously and, through our mission to be a living, Christian experience, we encourage a culture that upholds respect, compassion and understanding. We take a whole school approach to wellbeing that encourages students to build emotional resilience, and helps them to understand the importance of looking after their own mental health, as they face the various challenges that modern life presents.
We understand that life is not always straightforward and so we also provide support that is tailored to each student, whenever the need arises. The first port of call for any concerns about wellbeing is the Form Tutor. Learning Coordinators can also be approached for help and they can make a referral to our Deputy Mental Health Lead who will help to secure the most appropriate support. This support may include peer mentors, group work and regular contact. In addition, our school mentor and school counsellors provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space for students to talk about anything that may be worrying them. We also can refer to outside agencies and professionals that can help.
In this wellbeing area you will find information pages on some of the main issues affecting teenagers and young adults in secondary school. You can access these within school or at home.
If you have any questions about any of the information or would like to talk to a member of staff about any worry or concern, please contact your Form Tutor, your Learning Co-ordinator, Mrs Ince or Mrs Howard. E-mail contacts are below:
|Deputy Headteacher (Pastoral & Life Skills)||Mrs W Howardemail@example.com|
|Assistant Headteacher (DSP Lead)||Miss J Scoullerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Deputy Mental Health Lead||Mrs S Inceemail@example.com|
|Year 7||Miss L Hunterfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Year 8||Mr L Medinaemail@example.com|
|Year 9||Mr N Barryfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Year 10||Miss Bullock||BullockB@jhn.herts.sch.uk|
|Year 11||Mrs J Broomemail@example.com|
|Sixth Form||Mrs R Daviesfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Below you will find information and help on specific issues. Please note that views and opinions given by external sites do not necessarily reflect those of The Saint John Henry Newman Catholic School.
"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” ~ Chinese proverb
What is Anger?
Anger is one of the most basic human emotions. It is a physical and mental response to a threat or to harm done in the past. Anger takes many different forms from irritation to blinding rage or resentment that festers over many years.
Anger has three components:
- Physical - physical reactions normally begin with a rush of adrenaline and responses can include an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and tightening of muscles. This is often known as the 'flight or fight' response.
- Cognitive - the cognitive experience of anger is how we perceive and think about what is angering us.
- Behavioural - this constitutes any behaviour that signals anger, which may include raising one’s voice, slamming doors or storming away.
How might I feel?
Some physical signs of anger include:
- increased and rapid heart rate
- shaking or trembling
- sweating, especially your palms
- feeling anxious
- being resentful
- feeling guilty
- being irritated
Some other signs of anger include:
- becoming sarcastic
- raising your voice
- beginning to yell, scream or cry
What can I do?
It is important to learn to understand your anger and it may be useful to know some techniques that can limit the chances of it coming out in a way that is damaging.
Learn your triggers - it may be helpful to keep a diary about the times and situations where you felt angry. You can include answers to the following questions:
- What were the circumstances?
- Did someone say or do something to trigger your anger?
- How did you feel?
- How did you behave?
- How did you feel afterwards?
By doing this, you will probably see a pattern emerging. Just recognising what makes you angry may be helpful enough.
Calming techniques - you could try some of the following:
- Breathing slowly – breathe out for longer than you breathe in and relax when you breathe out.
- Counting to 10 before you react to anything – this can help give you perspective on what to do.
- Doing something creative – this can channel your energy and focus towards something else.
- Listen to calming music – this can help change you mood and slow your physical as well as emotional reactions down.
- Using relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
Be assertive – if you are able to express your anger by talking in an ‘assertive’ way about what has made you angry, this will produce better results for you. Being assertive means standing up for yourself, while still respecting other people and their opinions. Being assertive helps:
- make communication easier
- stop tense situations getting out of control
- benefit your relationships and self-esteem
- to keep you physically and mentally well
Where can I go for help?
Your GP is a good place to start to discuss what’s bothering you – identifying the trigger or triggers may be all you need to help manage your anger – but they may also be able to suggest ways you can manage your anger yourself. If they don’t think they can help then they may refer you for further support. You may be able to get help on the NHS or, if you can afford it, pay for it yourself. The NHS website is a good place to start for further information about anger and how we can manage this.
SupportLine provides a confidential telephone helpline offering emotional support to any individual on any issue. The Helpline is primarily a preventative service and aims to support people before they reach the point of crisis. It is particularly aimed at those who are socially isolated, vulnerable, at risk groups and victims of any form of abuse. SupportLine is a member of the Helplines Association. SupportLine also provides support by email and post.
The British Association of Anger Management
0345 1300 286
What is bereavement?
Bereavement, sometimes also referred to as grief, is a term used to describe the sense of loss felt when a loved one passes away.
Losing someone important to you is one of the hardest things to experience in life. If you're young, bereavement can be even more difficult but support and advice are available to help you get through it.
How might I feel?
Your emotions after a bereavement could be different to other people in your family or your friends. There is no right or wrong way to feel so don’t beat yourself up for reacting to bereavement in different ways. You may feel only one of these emotions, but it is more likely that you will experience a range if not all of these feelings.
- shock, particularly if the death was unexpected
- relief, if the death followed a long period of illness
- guilt and regret
- despair and helplessness
These feelings may be very intense, particularly in the early days and weeks. Time eventually helps these intense emotions subside, and there's no need to feel guilty about starting to feel better. It doesn't mean you're not respecting the person's memory or forgetting about them.
There are several things that can help you start to feel better. Looking after your health and talking to someone will help you get through this difficult time.
What can I do?
Finding support for bereavement
Talking about your grief is an important part of getting through a bereavement. Choosing who to talk to about your feelings is a very personal decision. Sometimes the most unlikely person can actually offer the most support.
If you've lost a family member, someone else in your family may also be good to open up to because they're likely to understand how you're feeling.
A close friend can be a good listener and a source of comfort and support, even if they haven't gone through this themselves.
Looking after yourself during a bereavement
During a time of grief you may not feel like looking after yourself, but it's important to help you cope with the extreme emotions that come with bereavement.
Make sure you are eating properly, sleeping properly, socialising with friends as much as possible and exercising.
Tips from young people who have been through something similar:
- Too many emotions? Share them
- I like to take my mind off it - TV, playstation, go outside
- Watch a good film or TV programme
- Choose something that belonged to the person who died that you can treasure
- Listen to music that you like
- Create your own space as sometimes it can get too much and you can feel there is nowhere else to go
- It's ok that sometimes you may want to talk about it and other times you may not want to
- Spend time with friends
- Spend time with your pets
- Write about or draw your thoughts, feelings and memories
- Memory books or boxes can be really helpful
- Think about all of the good times you had with them
Where can I go for help?
There are lots of other sources of advice and support available, including:
- websites and blogs – such as Hope Again, a website for young people going through a bereavement, where you can find information, read other people's experiences, and add your own; the Winston's Wish and Child Bereavement Charity websites also offer information and advice
- helplines – such as Cruse Bereavement young people's helpline on 0844 477 9400
- Child Bereavement UK 01494 568900 or 0800 02 888 40 or email on email@example.com
- Child Bereavement UK also have an app that you can download on your phone, why not have a look at Grief: Support for Young People.
- your GP – if your feelings do not start changing or getting easier to handle seeing your GP might be a good idea - especially if you are worried you might be depressed or are not eating or sleeping. Your GP might be able to point you in the right direction for further support.
- Your tutor or another member of staff you feel comfortable talking to.
What is it?
Bullying can mean many different things and young people have described bullying as:
- being called names
- being put down or humiliated
- being teased
- being pushed or pulled about
- having money and other possessions taken or messed about with
- having rumours spread about you
- being ignored and left out
- being hit, kicked or physically hurt
- being threatened or intimidated
How you might feel
- in pain
- worried or stressed
- feel like you don't want to go to school
- have difficulty eating or sleeping
- want to hurt yourself or to hurt others
- feel like no-one is listening to you
- not feel very good about yourself
What you can do
Here are some things you can do to combat psychological and verbal bullying. They're also good tips to share with a friend as a way to show your support:
Ignore the bully and walk away. It's definitely not a coward's response — sometimes it can be harder than losing your temper. Bullies thrive on the reaction they get, and if you walk away or ignore hurtful emails or instant messages, you're telling the bully that you just don't care. Sooner or later the bully will probably get bored with trying to bother you. Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you're not vulnerable.
Hold the anger. Who doesn't want to get really upset with a bully? But that's exactly the response he or she is trying to get. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions. If you're in a situation where you have to deal with a bully and you can't walk away with poise, use humor — it can throw the bully off guard. Work out your anger in another way, such as through exercise or writing it down (make sure you tear up any letters or notes you write in anger).
Don't get physical. However you choose to deal with a bully, don't use physical force (like kicking, hitting, or pushing). Not only are you showing your anger, you can never be sure what the bully will do in response. You are more likely to be hurt and get into trouble if you use violence against a bully. You can stand up for yourself in other ways, such as gaining control of the situation by walking away or by being assertive in your actions.
Some adults believe that bullying is part of growing up, that it builds character, and that hitting back is the only way to tackle the problem. But that's not the case. Aggressive responses tend to lead to more violence and more bullying for the victims.
Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).
Take charge of your life. You can't control other people's actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Think about ways to feel your best — and your strongest. Exercise is one way to feel strong and powerful. (It's a great mood lifter, too!) Learn a martial art or take a class like yoga. Another way to gain confidence is to hone your skills in something like chess, art, music, computers, or writing. Joining a class, club, or gym is a great way to make new friends and feel good about yourself. The confidence you gain will help you ignore the mean kids.
Talk about it. It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you're being bullied.
Find your (true) friends. If you've been bullied with rumors or gossip, all of these tips (especially ignoring and not reacting) can apply. Take it one step further to help ease feelings of hurt and isolation. Find one or two true friends and confide how the gossip has hurt your feelings. Set the record straight by telling your friends quietly and confidently what's true and not true about you. Hearing a friend say, "I know the rumor's not true. I didn't pay attention to it," can help you realize that most of the time people see gossip for what it is - petty, rude, and immature.
What if you are the Bully?
All of us have to deal with a lot of difficult situations and emotions. When some people feel stressed, angry, or frustrated, picking on someone else can be a quick escape — it takes the attention away from them and their problems. Some bullies learn from firsthand experience. Perhaps name-calling, putdowns, or physical force are the norms in their families. Whatever the reason, though, it's no excuse for being the bully.
If you find it hard to resist the temptation to bully, you might want to talk with someone you look up to. Try to think about how others feel when you tease or hurt them. If you have trouble figuring this out (many people who bully do), you might ask someone else to help you think of the other person's side.
Bullying behavior backfires and makes everyone feel miserable — even the bullies. People might feel intimidated by bullies, but they don't respect them. If you would rather that people see your strength and character — even look up to you as a leader — find a way to use your power for something positive rather than to put others down.
Do you really want people to think of you as unkind, abusive, and mean? It's never too late to change, although changing a pattern of bullying might seem difficult at first. Ask an adult you respect for some mentoring or coaching on how you could change.
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones, tablets & PCs on sites such as instagram, snapchat or other social media.
Cyber bullying is rife on the internet and most young people will experience it or see it at some time. In a recent national survey 56% of young people said they have seen others be bullied online and 42% have felt unsafe online. Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it can go viral very fast.
Types of cyberbullying
There are many ways of bullying someone online and for some it can take shape in more ways than one. Some of the types of cyber bullying are:
Harassment - This is the act of sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages and putting humiliating comments on posts, photos and in chat rooms. If people are being explicitly offensive on gaming sites this is also harassment.
Denigration – This is when someone may send information about another person that is fake, damaging and untrue. For example sharing photos of someone for the purpose to ridicule, spreading fake rumours and gossip. This can be on any online site or on apps. We even hear about people altering photos of others and posting online for the purpose of bullying.
Flaming – This is when someone is purposely using really extreme and offensive language and getting into online arguments and fights. They do this to cause reactions and enjoy the fact it causes someone to get distressed.
Impersonation – This is when someone will hack into someone’s email or social networking account and use the person's online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others. Making fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online is common place and it can be really difficult to get them closed down.
Outing and Trickery – This is when someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others. They may also do this with private images and videos too.
Cyber Stalking – This is the act of repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm, harassment, intimidating messages, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety. The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.
Exclusion – This is when others intentionally leave someone out of a group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of social bullying and a very common.
Bullying by spreading rumours and gossip
The worst thing about social networking sites and messaging apps is that anything nasty posted about you can be seen by lots of people and these posts can go viral very fast and be shared by so many people within minutes.
Experience shows that from those who have been bullied online the most vicious gossip and rumours are often spread by people who were once your best friends so it's best to keep secrets and personal information to yourself. Only tell people things if it wouldn't embarrass you if other people found out about them. Posting false and malicious things about people on the internet can be classed as harassment.
Anyone who makes threats to you on the internet could be committing a criminal offence. It's against the law in the UK to use the phone system, which includes the internet, to cause alarm or distress. If threats are made against you then it's essential you confide in your parents, or someone you trust so that they can make a complaint to the police. If you can't print out the threats use the "print screen" button or snipping tool to take a snapshot of the computer screen and then save that somewhere safe. Or if you have a phone or tablet, use the screenshot function and keep these images safe.
Blackmail and grooming
There are reports from young people that new "friends" online have tried to pressure them into taking their clothes off and filming or taking images of themselves. Threats have been made that their parent will be told embarrassing things if they don't take part or they will send the images to everyone they know if they do not do it.
This is an offence called "grooming" in the UK and people who have been found guilty of "grooming" have been jailed. Remember: everyone you meet on the internet is a stranger and you need to keep personal things personal to you, don't share your secrets with other people and if anyone asks you. including people you know, to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable then don't do it.
Sometimes people in relationships try to prove to their boyfriend or girlfriend they love them or want to be with them by sexting images of themselves. It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to take, send or redistribute pictures of anyone under the age of 18.
CEOP is The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and they investigate cases of sexual abuse and grooming on the internet. You can report incidents by clicking the red button on the top right hand corner of the CEOP website. Although the police can get information from your computer's hard drive, it is helpful if you don't delete anything until the police have decided whether they need it as evidence.
When comments get abusive
There are quite a few instant messaging apps including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Secret, Whisper and Instagram. They are a great way of sharing things with your friends and having fun. However, if things turn nasty you can block people from seeing you are on line, and you can save abusive conversations or print them out as evidence.
It's tempting to have a go back if someone makes a rude posting on your online space, social network or app but don't. This is called flaming and it just makes the problem worse. Abusive comments are very upsetting but the best way to deal with them is to get them removed by the website.
It's easy to save any pictures of anyone on any site and upload them to the internet. Make sure that you have the person's permission to take a picture and that they're happy for thousands of people to see it on the internet. Be wary of tagging and hashtags as this will send the picture out to a wider audience then you may have originally intended.
Don't upset people and then upload their pictures for other people to have a laugh. That could be harassment. Don't digitally alter pictures of people either because what you think is funny may be offensive to other people. Don't let anyone take pictures of you that might embarrass you.
There is no such thing as an innocent bystander and if you have seen someone being bullied online, you can report it to the online site or app. Ignoring it may feel like the easiest thing to do but the person who is being subjected to that bullying may need your help and support to get it stopped. Most sites now have a report button which is something you can do and this will send the bullying comments to the site to investigate.
What you can do
- If you post abuse about anyone else online or if you send threats, you can be traced by the police without any difficulty. Every time you visit a website or make a posting, your internet service provider, Sky, BT or Virgin or the school internet provider has an electronic note of your activity. Even if you create an anonymous email address like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, you can still be traced.
- Keep safe by using unusual passwords. Use a combination of letters, lowercase, uppercase, symbols and numbers. Be careful not to use any part of your name or email address and don't use your birth date either because that's easy for people who know you to guess. Don't let anyone see you signing in and if they do, change the password as soon as you can.
- If you are using a public computer such as one in a library, computer shop, or even a shared family computer, be sure to sign out of any web service you are using before leaving the computer so that you can protect your privacy.
- Being bullied online can affect someone enormously. It can impact on a person’s self-esteem, confidence and social skills. In many cases people subjected to this type of bullying have had to leave school, work and social networks to escape bullying. Try to consider the impact your words may have and think twice before posting.
- Think twice before you post anything online because once it’s out there you can’t take it back. It is easy for any comments or posts you make online to be taken out of context and these could be damaging to you in the long term.
Useful websites and organisations
ChildLine can help
You can get help through ChildLine by:
Bullying UK - Bullying UK
Counselling Directory - Counselling Directory
Kidscape - Kidscape
What is Depression?
Depression is different from feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is something which everyone feels at one time or another, usually due to a particular cause. A person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away. For more information click here
How might I feel?
We all expect to get a cold or sore throat from time to time but when it comes to the way we feel emotionally, it can be hard to recognise or admit that we're not feeling 100%.
There are many questionnaires designed to assess how you are feeling in order to point you in the right direction for resources that will help you better understand how you feel.
Click here to go to the Check Your Mood self assessment page.
It can be easy for us to self-diagnose ourselves as feeling depressed when we might just be sad or finding things more difficult than usual. The thing to remember is feeling sad doesn’t always mean that you are depressed!
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help. You may find this website useful.
If you find yourself relating to many of the symptoms below you should talk to your parents, your GP or your form tutor.
- Tiredness and loss of energy.
- Sadness that doesn’t go away.
- Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting.
- Feeling anxious all the time.
- Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends.
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
- Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual.
- Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
- Finding it hard to function at work/college/school.
- Loss of appetite.
- Physical aches and pains.
- Thinking about suicide and death.
What can I do?
Counselling - One of the most effective methods of helping people with depression. It provides people with the opportunity to talk through the issues that may be building up and therefore causing depression.
If counselling isn’t for you – how about just talking things through with a friend. Talking can make problems that seem huge, become smaller and more manageable.
Exercise - This can be as powerful as any other treatment for depression – why not try a new type of exercise – yoga and dancing are two of the best forms of exercise to do when you are feeling depressed.
Music- not just your favorite type of music, but music that will relax you and calm you down. If you don’t want to listen to music try making music of your own. The thing to remember is that you should be having fun as this will help to reduce the feelings responsible for weighing you down.
Don’t Forget - Having fun works!
There’s an App for that! - There are also loads of excellent well-being apps that you can download onto your iphone or android. These can be really useful to help you take time out of your busy day to clear your head. There are loads of apps that claim to use psychological principles to increase wellbeing in some way, encouraging you to keep track of your mood, to manage worry, to influence what you dream about … all sorts. Why not try one of the following:
Where can I go for help?
Useful websites to help you make more sense of your feelings also include the NHS Website, Samaritans and Mind.
There are also audio guides about low mood and depression that you can access from the nhs website. These might help to remind you that feeling low is totally normally and you are most certainly not alone.
What's the difference between an eating problem and an eating disorder?
- An eating problem is any kind of relationship with food that you are finding difficult.
- An eating problem may be considered to be an eating disorder if your behaviour meets the medical criteria for a diagnosis. A doctor will look at your eating patterns to make a diagnosis. They may also measure your weight or body mass index (BMI), or take blood tests.
- The most common types of eating disorder are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Depending on the type of eating disorder you might experience different feelings. Some of these are listed below, but to find out more about these, along with other eating disorders click here
Feelings associated with Bulimia Nervosa can include
Feeling ashamed and guilty
Hating your body or thinking you are fat
Feeling scared of being found out by family and friends
Feeling depressed or anxious
Feeling lonely, especially if no one else knows about your eating problems
Feeling very low and upset
Feeling ike your mood changes quickly or suddenly
Feeling like you’re stuck in a cycle of feeling out of control and trying to get control back
Feeling numb, or like feelings are blocked out by bingeing or purging
Feelings associated with Anorexia Nervosa can include
Feeling like you can’t think about anything other than food
Feeling like you want to disappear
Feeling like you have to be perfect
Feeling lonely, especially if no one knows about your eating problems
Feeling like eating is the same as losing control
Feeling like you are hiding things from your family and friends
Feeling like you are fat and your weight loss isn’t enough, even if other people think you are underweight
Feeling frightened of putting on weight
Feeling angry if someone challenges you
Feeling tired and disinterested in things
Feeling a high or sense of achievement from denying yourself food or over-exercising.
What can I do?
There are ways to help yourself cope with your own eating disorder alongside help from outside organisations. Self-help treatments can prove to be really effective such as the ones listed below.
- Peer support
- Online peer support
- Practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques
- Learn to be kind to yourself
- Take practical steps to change unhealthy routines
To find out more about these different techniques take a look at the Mind Website
Self help books have also been proven to be effective in treating eating disorders. You can use these by yourself or with a friend or family member. They are generally written by medical experts but draw on the experience of people who have eating disorders. Click here for more information.
Hearing other people’s stories can also really help to remind you that you are not alone. The NHS website provides useful videos and audio books which offer help and advice.
Where can I go for help?
As a school, we would always urge you to contact your GP if you are worried that you may have an eating disorder. From here they will be able to carry out an assessment and point you in the right direction should you need to make contact with more specialist eating disorder services.
‘Talking treatments’ such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are generally considered to be the most effective way of treating eating disorders because they deal with the deeper emotional issues rather than simply with the obvious problems.
How can family and friends help?
You may feel very worried if you think that someone you care about has an eating problem. It may feel difficult to know how to talk to them about it. You might have already tried to offer support, but found that the person you’re worried about is unwilling or unable to accept help. This can make you feel powerless.
In fact there are lots of helpful things you can do:
- One of the most important things you can do is let the person you’re worried about know that you’re there, you’re listening and that you can help them find support. Let the person know they can talk to you when they are ready.
- Try not to make assumptions. People sometimes think that eating problems happen for certain reasons, like having been abused, or trying to stop the body developing during puberty or reasons to do with body image. If you interpret someone’s eating problems in a particular way, without really listening to the person themselves, it could add to their feeling of being out of control. It could make them less able to share their emotions.
- Understand that the person you’re worried about might not see their eating as a problem. They may actually view it as a solution to coping with feelings of rage, loss, powerlessness, self-hatred and guilt.
- Don’t try to persuade the person to change their behaviour. This could make them feel under threat, and may make them hide their eating problem. For example, trying to persuade someone to gain weight may make them feel afraid that they will be forced to eat. This could make them withdraw from you or try to convince you they are eating even if they are not.
- Encourage them to seek professional help, such as counselling or their GP. If they are worried about doing this, you could offer to go along with them.
- Help the person find good information – this could include looking for online support while helping the person avoid websites or forums that could promote unsafe eating and exercise habits.
- Include the person in social activities. If the person you are worried about finds it difficult to eat, organise activities which don’t include food.
Some of the main charities and organisations offering advice and support are listed below.
Beat (Beating eating disorders) Helpline 0345 634 1414 Youthline 0345 634 7650
Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) t: 03000 11 12 13 w: anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk
National Centre for Eating Disorders t: 0845 838 2040 w: eating-disorders.org.uk
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
What is it?
Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.
The illness affects as many as 12 in every 1000 people (1.2% of the population) from young children to adults.
It has traditionally been considered that there are four main categories of OCD. Although there are numerous forms of the illness within each category, typically a person’s OCD will fall into one of the four main categories:
- Contamination / mental contamination
- Ruminations / intrusive thoughts
To some degree OCD-type symptoms are probably experienced, at one time or another, by most people, especially in times of stress. However, OCD itself can have a totally devastating impact on a person’s entire life, from education, work and career through to social life and personal relationships.
OCD is diagnosed when the obsessions and compulsions:
- consume excessive amounts of time (approximately an hour or more)
- cause significant distress and anguish
- interfere with daily functioning at home, school or work, including social activities and family life and relationships.
How you might feel
OCD has three main parts:
1. the thoughts that make you anxious (obsessions)
2. the anxiety you feel
3. the things you do to reduce your anxiety (compulsions).
What you think (obsessions)
- Thoughts - single words, short phrases or rhymes that are unpleasant, shocking or blasphemous. You try not to think about them, but they won't go away. You worry that you might be contaminated (by germs, dirt, or cancer), or that someone might be harmed because you have been careless.
- Pictures in your mind - showing your family dead, or seeing yourself doing something violent or sexual which is completely out of character - stabbing or abusing someone, or being unfaithful. We know that people with obsessions do not become violent, or act on these thoughts.
- Doubts - you wonder for hours whether you might have caused an accident or misfortune to someone. You may worry that you have knocked someone over in your car, or that you have left your doors and windows unlocked.
- Ruminations - you endlessly argue with yourself about whether to do one thing or another so you can't make the simplest decision.
- Perfectionism - you are bothered, in a way that other people are not, if things are not in the exactly the right order, not balanced or not in the right place e.g. if books are not lined up precisely on a bookshelf.
The anxiety you feel (emotions)
- You feel tense, anxious, fearful, guilty, disgusted or depressed.
You feel better if you carry out your compulsive behaviour, or ritual - but it doesn't last long.
What you do (compulsions)
- Correcting obsessional thoughts - you think alternative 'neutralising' thoughts like counting, praying or saying a special word over and over again. It feels as though this prevents bad things from happening. It can also be a way of getting rid of any unpleasant thoughts or pictures that are bothering you.
- Rituals - you wash your hands frequently, do things really slowly and carefully, perhaps arrange objects or activities in a particular way. This can take up so much time that it takes ages to go anywhere, or do anything useful.
- Checking - your body for contamination, that appliances are switched off, that the house is locked or that your journey route is safe.
- Avoidance - of anything that is a reminder of worrying thoughts. You avoid touching particular objects, going to certain places, taking risks or accepting responsibility. For example, you may avoid the kitchen because you know you will find sharp knives there.
- Hoarding - of useless and worn out possessions. You just can't throw anything away.
- Reassurance - you repeatedly ask others to tell you that everything is alright.
What you can do
There are different types of help or treatments that can help you feel better. Most people with OCD won’t have to go to hospital unless their problems are very serious.
Visit your GP
If you have some of the symptoms of OCD then speak to your doctor and explain how you are feeling. There are various treatments or ways to help that your GP can offer you. Left untreated, OCD is unlikely to get better and could get worse.
If your symptoms are mild, you may be given a self-help book or video to follow on your own at your own pace with occasional contact with a professional.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
There are two types of CBT used to treat OCD, Exposure and Response Prevention or Cognitive Therapy.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
CBT is a psychological therapy that helps you to understand your thoughts and behaviour and teaches you to think differently about things. ERP involves being exposed to things that make you feel anxious but with support from a therapist to help you think about things differently. You could be offered this therapy on your own or as part of a group with other people who have OCD. By being exposed to what had made you feel anxious before, it gradually reduces the anxiety and helps you to face your fears.
Cognitive Therapy is a psychological therapy which helps you change your reaction to thoughts that make you anxious rather than getting rid of the thoughts. This therapy is suitable if you have worrying thoughts but do not perform any rituals.
Antidepressants may be prescribed as the only treatment for OCD or alongside therapy such as CBT so you have medication and therapy at the same time. SSRIs are prescribed for depression but can also help with OCD. It can take a few weeks for you to feel the benefits of antidepressants so don’t worry if you don’t feel different overnight. Do speak to your GP if you experience any side effects or if you don’t feel any different after you have been taking them for a few weeks.
If your symptoms of OCD are serious and ERP and CBT are not helping you, then the GP may refer you to get specialist help from a child and adolescent psychiatrist who would discuss further treatment with you.
Useful websites and organisations
Young person’s OCD guide - www.ocduk.org
OCD Action - www.ocdaction.org.uk
What is self-harm?
Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, old memories, or overwhelming situations and experiences. The ways you hurt yourself can be physical, such as cutting yourself. They can also be less obvious, such as putting yourself in risky situations, or not looking after your own physical or emotional needs.
How might I feel?
If you self-harm, you may feel embarrassed or ashamed about it. You might be worried that other people will judge you or pressurise you to stop if you tell them about it. This may mean that you keep your self-harming a secret. This is a very common reaction, although not everyone does this.
Many of us might think we know what self-harming involves, but not everyone realises it can include over-eating, under-eating, excessive exercising, scratching and hair pulling.
After self-harming, you might feel better and more able to cope for a while. However, self-harm can bring up very difficult feelings and could make you feel worse.
There are no fixed rules about why people self-harm. For some people, it can be linked to specific experiences, and be a way of dealing with something that is happening now, or that happened in the past. For others, it is less clear. If you don’t understand the reasons for your self-harm, it’s important to remind yourself that this is OK, and you don’t need to know this in order to ask for help.
Any difficult experience can cause someone to self-harm. Common causes include:
- pressures at school or work
- money worries
- confusion about your sexuality
- breakdown of relationships
- an illness or health problem
- difficult feelings, such as depression, anxiety, anger or numbness, experienced as part of a mental health problem.
How can I help?
There are numerous strategies you can put in place yourself to help stop yourself before you get to the point of self-harming. To find out more about these different techniques take a look at the Mind Website
Some of the advice they offer is to:
- work out your patterns of self-harm
- learn to recognise triggers
- learn to recognise urges
- distract from the urge to self-harm
- delay self-harm
- build your self-esteem
- Look after your general wellbeing
Advice from other young people who have self-harmed in the past can be found on the Childline website, but 6 effective methods outlined include:
- listening to music
- talking to friends or family
- writing down how you feel
- drawing a butterfly on yourself - the aim is to keep it alive and if you self-harm you ‘kill’ the butterfly
- squeezing an ice cube
Express it physically:
Sadness and fear
Need to control
Numb and disconnected
Where can I go for help?
No Harm Done http://www.inourhands.com/noharmdoneyoungpeople/
ChildLine helpline 0800 1111. You can call ChildLine anytime to speak to a counsellor
Young Minds www.youngminds.org.uk/for_children_young_people
What is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.
You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, or dizziness.
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called "fight or flight" response.
Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you're constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.
How you might feel
How you might behave
How you might be physically affected
What you can do
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.
These are the “fight or flight” hormones that evolution has hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat. However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response, and so physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.
When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.
Get more sleep
A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately though, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.
Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximise your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down and swich off your mobile phone and any other electronic devices. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you.
You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.
Try relaxation techniques
Each day try to relax with a stress reduction technique. There are many tried and tested ways to reduce stress so try a few and see what works best for you.
For example, try self-hypnosis which is very easy and can be done anywhere. One very simple technique is to focus on a word or phrase that has a positive meaning to you. Words such as "calm" "love" and "peace" work well, or you could think of a self-affirming mantra such as “I deserve calm in my life” or “Grant me serenity”. Focus on your chosen word or phrase; if you find your mind has wandered or you become aware of intrusive thoughts entering your mind, simply disregard them and return your focus to the chosen word or phrase. If you find yourself becoming tense again later, simply silently repeat your word or phrase.
Don't worry if you find it difficult to relax at first. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned and will improve with practice.
Talk to someone
Just talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful.
Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it.
Stress can cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.
Keep a stress diary
Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is an effective stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed.
Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.
Stress can be triggered by a problem that may on the surface seem impossible to solve. Learning how to find solutions to your problems will help you feel more in control thereby lowering your level of stress.
One problem-solving technique involves writing down the problem and coming up with as many possible solutions as you can. Decide on the good and bad points of each one and select the best solution. Write down each step that you need to take as part of the solution: what will be done, how will it be done, when will it be done, who is involved and where will it take place.
Manage your time
At times, we all feel overburdened by our 'To Do' list and this is a common cause of stress. Accept that you can not do everything at once and start to prioritise and diarise your tasks.
Make a list of all the things that you need to do and list them in order of genuine priority. Note what tasks you need to do personally and what you can ask others to do. Record which tasks need to be done immediately, in the next week, in the next month, or when time allows.
By editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and unmanageable task list, you can break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame, with some tasks removed from the list entirely through delegation.
Remember as well to create buffer times to deal with unexpected and emergency tasks, and to include time for your own relaxation and well-being.
Learn to say ‘No’
A common cause of stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. And yet in this situation, many people will still agree to take on additional responsibility. Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence.
To learn to say “No”, you need to understand why you find it difficult. Many people find it hard to say “No” because they want to help and are trying to be nice and to be liked. For others, it is a fear of conflict, rejection or missed opportunities. Remember that these barriers to saying “No” are all self-created.
You might feel reluctant to respond to a request with a straight “No”, at least at first. Instead think of some pre-prepared phrases to let other people down more gently. Practice saying phrases such as:
“I am sorry but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
“Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. Why don’t you ask me again at….?”
“I’d love to do this, but …”
Avoid caffeine and reduce your intake of sugar
Avoid, or at least reduce your consumption of all drinks containing caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it.
Swap caffeinated drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress. Alcohol and nicotine will increase your levels of stress. Also remember it is illegal to purchase alcohol & cigarettes whilst under the age of 18.
You should also aim to avoid or reduce your intake of refined sugars - they are contained in many manufactured foods (and even in savoury foods such as salad dressings and bread) and can cause energy crashes which may lead you to feel tired and irritable. In general, try to eat a healthy, well-balanced and nutritious diet.
Rest if you are ill
If you are feeling unwell, do not feel that you have to carry on regardless. A short spell of rest will enable the body to recover faster.
What is it?
Exam stress is normal and very common. People may experience it because:
- It is often necessary to learn and recall a large amount of information for an exam
- Exams always have an element of uncertainty about them
- You may need a particular exam result to gain entry into another course or career path
How you might feel?
Some people feel stress more than others, regardless of how confident they are about the topic they are studying.
Symptoms of exam stress include:
- losing touch with friends and the activities you enjoy
- feeling extra cranky and low
- sleeping poorly and struggling to get out of bed
- difficulty getting motivated to start work
- having clammy hands or feeling butterflies in your stomach
- having a racing heart beat or feeling sick
- feeling confused or having your mind going blank during the tests
These symptoms can interfere with how much you enjoy life, especially around exam times.
What you can do
If you're experiencing exam stress, firstly, it's important to try to remind yourself that this is only a small part of your life and won't last forever (even though it might not feel like it at the time!).
Below, we've put together a list of study, practical and relaxation ideas that young people have told us has helped them to manage exam stress. We've also included some tips on how to deal with stress on exam day!
It's never too late to set up good study and revision habits.
- Have an uncluttered space to work with ready access to any materials you need
- Find out exactly what the test involves, are there past test papers you can look at to help you understand what to expect?
- Ask your teacher if you are unsure of what to expect or what will be tested
- Learn to make ‘mind maps’ and use them to collect ideas and summarise thoughts, use bright colours to help remember important links
- Make a clear plan of what you want to cover in each study period. Break it down into small tasks and work on one task at a time
- Take regular short breaks of about 5 minutes to have a drink or something to eat
- Ask for help sometimes. It may be useful to have someone hear you summarise points or to practise an oral presentation
Practical ideas to help with study
- Stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time, eating regularly and still making time to have fun and exercise.
- Cut back on coffee or any other stimulants you may use as these can increase your agitation; drink lots of water instead.
- When you eat, relax and allow yourself time rather than carrying on with work.
- Fresh fruit, vegetables, cereals, grains, nuts and protein are all good for the brain and blood sugar levels. Eat as you become really hungry because it keeps blood sugar and hydration levels steady. Avoid junk food if possible because it will bring a sudden sugar high and then fall away quickly leaving you feeling depleted.
- Give yourself mini rewards once you achieve your study goals, such as watching an episode of your favorite Television show or going for a run.
Relaxation ideas to help with study
- Go out for a walk or run or do some other exercise that you enjoy.
- Put on some gentle music, lie down, close your eyes and breathe deeply while visualising a calming scene such as a deserted beach.
- Give yourself enough time to relax before you go to sleep. Reading a book or chatting to a friend for a while may help you unwind.
- Visualise success as this can really help with self-confidence.
Ideas for exam day
- Work out and organise what you need to take with you into your exam the night before.
- If you feel yourself getting anxious just before your exam then spend some time focusing on your breathing. Practise beforehand (it could be as you lie down in bed) so that you learn how to slow down your breathing. Breathe in to a count of three and then breathe out to a count of three. Repeat this steadily for a few minutes.
- On exam day, keep away from other people who may be feeling anxious or who may say unhelpful comments that make you feel more anxious.
- When you first sit down to do your exam, take time to slow your breathing and relax.
- Read through the exam paper carefully. Underline key words and instructions. Work out how long you have for each question or section.
- Watch out for the wording of questions - make sure that you answer what is being asked.
- Work on the questions that you find easiest first.
- Aim to have time to re-read answers through and make any changes that are necessary.
Remember when you finish your exam - take time out to relax a bit before you start preparing for the next exam - go for a run or have a chat with a friend!
Useful websites and organisations
Supporting a friend or family member with mental illness
How you might feel
It’s entirely normal to experience a range of emotions when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Guilt, shame, disbelief, fear, anger and grief are all common reactions. You are not to blame for a loved one’s mental illness. Mental illnesses are caused by many different factors that work together, such as genetics, biology, environment and life experiences.
What you can do
Take time to learn more about mental illnesses. This will give you a better understanding of your loved one’s experiences and help you see what they may be going through. You can find reliable information online, through provincial or territorial health services, and through community organizations.
Embarrassment, social stigma, and fear can stop many family members from seeking help when a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness. But that can isolate you at a time when you need the most support from others. Talk to trusted friends and family and let them know what you’re experiencing.
Join a support group
Support groups are a good place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Please see Mrs Davies for details of local groups in the area.
Take time for yourself
If you are caring for a loved one, your responsibilities may use up your physical and emotional energy. t’s important to take time for yourself. It can help you recharge and give you a more balanced perspective toward any challenges you experience. Schedule opportunities that allow you to relax, have fun and get away so you can come back to your loved one with a healthier outlook. You can’t care for someone else if you haven’t cared for yourself first.
Seek help for yourself
Caring for a loved one who is unwell can be stressful. Seek help if you find your own well-being slipping, and encourage family members to seek help if they need it. Mental illness can also have a big impact on family relationships. It’s a good idea to seek counselling for the entire family.
Develop coping strategies for challenging behaviours
There may be times when a loved one shows strange or challenging behaviours that can make you feel confused, embarrassed, or scared. This can happen in public or in private. Learn more about your options.
- plan the best strategies for the situation.
- understand that this is not personal.
- realise that some behaviours may be beyond your loved one’s control. They may be as distressing to them as they are to you.
It can be incredibly stressful and emotional draining supporting a family member or close friend with a mental illness. The following websites have some good advice on how to cope.
Rethink mental illness - www.rethink.org/carers-family-friends/what-you-need-to-know/supporting-someone-with-a-mental-illness
Under the guidance of our Chef Manager we encourage pupils and students to eat healthily and we offer nutritious, enjoyable and tasty food at a very reasonable price.
The Junior Dining Room gives pupils and students the ideal opportunity to meet with their friends before school and enjoy a delicious and nutritionally balanced breakfast in a relaxed atmosphere. We are open every morning from 8.00am.
Our catering team, Dolce, offers a range of options at break times to encourage healthy eating, providing a wide selection of bread-based snacks including paninis and teacakes, fresh fruit and drinks.
In addition to a vast array of freshly made sandwiches and rolls, we also provide two main meal options at lunchtime, one of which is always suitable for a vegetarian diet. Fresh vegetables, rice and pasta, jacket potatoes, hot snacks, homemade soup, a full salad bar and a range of hot and cold deserts are also available. A selection of take-away food is available too.
Payment for school meals is either by card or by thumbprint. Pupils and students can top up their cards with cheques or cash at the machine on the ground floor by the maths department or by placing their money into an envelope and posting it into the box by the kitchen. Parents can also top up their child's catering account via parentpay.
Free school meals
For details of eligibility and how to apply for free school meals please go to www.hertsdirect.org/freeschoolmeals