Out of My Head (Mental Health)
TW (Trigger Warning): Mental Health Disorders. Suicide.
MH = Mental Health.
First of all. Having bad mental health is scarily common. As in, in 2017, 1 in 8 5-19-year-olds had at least one mental health disorder. And 1 in 10 young people is affected by mental health problems. Which is like for every class of 30 in your school, there are 3 kids in every class that's affected by mental health problems.
Which is quite alarming because I never thought about that when I was in school. The term 'Mental Health' wasn't even a thing to me at all, let alone anything that was spoken about or taught in class but if I think back now, I know that some of my friends probably struggled with poor mental health even in secondary school.
One thing to mention is that having good mental health doesn't mean that your life is perfect & you are constantly happy & at a peace. The same way I can say I'm in good physical health but it doesn't mean I've never had to see my GP or taken medication or had a cold. And having bad mental health does not mean your mind is written off for life. You can have a bad mental health day and that’s just as valid as somebody who experiences frequent bad MH days, months etc.
When I say Bad Mental Health, I mean being in a state that inhibits you from functioning how you would like to function. What that looks like differs from person to person and even across cultures and countries.
Did you know that Mandarin has 113 different terms for SHAME? and in various languages, there are some mental health disorders that literally don't even exist! in that language?!
Why do bad Mental Health days occur?
Something bad could’ve happened or a series of small events could trigger
Prolonged, long withstanding problems
Grief from losing people/lost opportunities
Learnt bad habits for coping with things could lead to bad mental health e.g. isolating yourself, drugs etc
Genetics? This is a big fear that a lot of people have. "I know my mum/dad/aunty/grandparents struggled with this mental health problem, does that mean I will get this?" The general answer is no. Research suggests that there is a small link in parents having certain mental health disorders and their children presenting signs of mental health problems later on in life too but it is not a causal link (meaning ≠ because Jean Slater has bipolar, she is the why her daughter Stacey Slater has bipolar disorder). The link is not that strong to say that and there can be a number of reasons why that small link can be found. E.g. sometimes we learn the behaviours of our parents that can make us susceptible to certain things. For example, studies have shown that babies with mothers who are suffering from the symptoms of post-partum depression show signs of anxiety when developing too. This is likely to be due to learnt behaviour.
When we experience bad mental health days, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have a disorder.
E.g. I can feel depressed or anxious but it doesn’t mean that I have depression or anxiety disorder.
But sometimes it does & that’s okay and nothing to be ashamed of. I know a lot of people aren't a fan of labelling mental health problems (even psychologists & other professionals) & I agree sometimes. But it can help to identify what your problem is, realise that it's not 'you' and find out what other people with that problem have done to get through it.
Another positive of having names for mental health problems is that it stops us from
Another example is a slight pet peeve of mine😅 Not condemning anyone because it’s stereotyping I learnt from Tv, documentaries & the lack of education about mental health we get in secondary school. Being very particular about cleanliness does not mean someone has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is a lot more distressing than just liking things done in a particular way. To find out more.
..... so what happens if I keep having bad mental health days and get recommended for therapy. What’s therapy like?
I currently go to therapy and I also studied Psychology for 4 years at university. So I'm speaking from experience and not just from what Google says.
From a person who’s studied about psychotherapy:
Therapy is an avenue of help for mental health issues. You don’t need to have a diagnosed problem to get therapy.
Therapy is to help the person work through the issues they want to work through, not tell them what to do
Therapy looks different for every single person. It’s not one shoe fits all.
There are SOOOO many different types of therapies for different kinds of people’s preferences & different issues. CBT (Cognitive Behav Therapy) is the most commonly delivered in the NHS but there are so many others
You can go to therapy for a short period of time, for years or once every couple of years. It's up to you and what your needs are at any said time.
For certain issues, getting therapy online via therapy programmes/courses can be just as effective as getting therapy the more conventional way of face-to-fact
From my experience of therapy (everyone's experience of therapy will/does look different):
Therapy is weird & awkward but helpful.
You can get a therapist to be
Your therapist doesn’t tell you what to do (unless you ask them to)
Your therapist is there to help you find out what will help you.
You’re in control of how you want it to go
Therapy helps me to figure out why I feel/think the way I do and what I can do to change the things I want to change
I still do wish my therapist could read my mind because sometimes it’s difficult to say what’s on my mind and articulate my feelings
I hate the question “so what do you want to work on/talk about?” But that’s my therapist allowing me to take control of everything & not assuming they know best
It does feel weird talking to a stranger about everything but you learn that you can trust them & it takes time, which they're also aware of so there's no pressure
- You can get therapy for FREE via the NHS
- You can also get therapy privately (which means you have to pay yourself). One site I have used is called BetterHelp which provides online therapy. You're able to request a therapist based on your issues, their race/gender/religion etc but it isn't the most affordable avenue so speak to your teacher/parent/carer/trusted adult that can help you figure out if private therapy is an option for you. - MIND is a popular mental health-focused charity that provides services and can signpost you to help
- OffTheRecord is also great with resources, workshops and help. They do a lot in areas like Bristol, Croydon, Sutton and many more. Definitely worth checking out
- Young Minds is a dedicated charity for children & young people's Mental Health. You can find info on your MH medication + how to manage your Mental Health too.
- Stem 4 is for the teens! Advice on dealing with addictions, self-harm and mental health problems.
Mental Health is a HUGE topic and I could talk about it for YEARS, so if you’d like to talk a bit more about it or have any questions or concerns for yourself or a friend, DM us on Instagram or better yet use our chat function on this website every Wed 4-6pm* to talk to me about it. No question is a silly question. I didn’t learn anything about MH until college and I still have so much more to learn despite having a degree in Psychology! But if we don't have the answer, we'll signpost you to people who may :)
Always remember that your feelings are valid.
Everyone is so different so what affects me really badly may mean nothing to you, which doesn't mean that I’m an attention seeker or over-emotional or you're a weirdo. it's just how we are.
Feelings do pass, even the super negative, intense ones that make us feel like we're worthless, unimportant or that we should disappear. The biggest lesson I'm learning about my mental health is that my feelings aren't always true. There are so many times I've thought that I couldn't carry on or did really badly in a test or that my friend doesn't like me anymore & I could’ve placed bets on my feelings to be true but time showed me often that they weren't.
Everyone always, at some point, needs help and that doesn’t make them weak, incapable or a burden. It’s just another fact of life just like how it's SO annoying when your teacher moves you away from your best friend 🤷🏾♀️ 😂 💛
----- In case, your feelings are telling you the only option is to disappear or harm yourself really badly, don't keep that to yourself. I've texted Shout when I've felt like that: 85258 they're a free 24/7 suicide helpline text service or you can call the Samaritans 116 123
for a judgement-free talk about how you're feeling. -----
*Our chat is 100% confidential, However, if we're worried that you are in danger or at risk of really harming yourself or others, we will inform someone just to make sure that you're safe. But we would always tell you & only tell them necessary information and nothing more. Besides that, everything you say is confidential because you deserve respect and privacy.