There are lots of things you can do to have a healthy mind, to be happy, confident and positive. Try to eat well, sleep well, and get enough exercise. You will also feel much happier if you have good relationships with others, take an interest in the wider world and do practical, constructive things like cooking or creative crafts. Listening to music, watching films and reading books are all great ways to release emotions and work out your feelings (whether they are positive or negative), and there is clear evidence that writing a diary or journal can help your mental health. Try to balance all aspects of your life and make time to completely switch off. This American website has some more excellent, practical advice on being happy and boosting your self-esteem.
Everyone has emotional ups and downs; they are part of life. But sometimes the ‘downs’ seem to take over. If you think you are not coping very well with your day-to-day life, have a look at this useful, clear advice from the US Government Office on Women’s Health designed specifically for teenage girls. It will help to identify whether you may have a mental illness and, if so, what to do about it. You will also find information and advice on the site about a range of mental health issues – the navigation is very clear and you should be able to find the information you need on anything that is worrying you.
Mental illness is an illness like any other and it can be treated. Please do not be afraid to ask for help. If you think you might have a problem, it is much better to talk to someone rather than try to work it out for yourself. There are trained people who will know how best to help you and who will always talk to you in the strictest confidence. You are not alone.
If you need to talk to someone, other than your family or friends, here are the people who can help you in the UK:
- your GP (who can refer you for specialist treatment, including counselling, if necessary)
- your school or college counselling service (if there is one)
- your social worker (if you have one)
- online help from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the NHS
- the UK charity YoungMinds has an excellent website with details of where to get help
- Childline offers online support and on the phone (0800 1111)
- The Samaritans will help everyone of any age. Go online, email or phone (116 123)
Agnes’s consultant psychotherapist, Virginia Mallin has written about mental health issues particularly relevant for teenage girls: about how our minds and emotions work, about love and family bonds, about coping with change, what to do when things go wrong, about mental health disorders (depression, eating disorders, anxiety and stress, self-harm and suicidal thoughts), and about bullying and risk-taking.