Mental Health in our Sixth Form

Mental Health in our Sixth Form  

Having a conversation about our mental health is a normal and useful thing to do. It is estimated by the charity Mind that around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem during the course of a year, and for 1 in 6 people they experience a common mental health problem in any given week. It is also important to recognise that we are a community of teachers, students and support staff, and a strong community is one that communicates well with one another. This page is designed to help you begin to explore available support, and to help structure conversations with teachers or peers.

Personal Resilience

One of the first things to recognise is that even if you are feeling overwhelmed by your workload or by personal issues, there are plenty of times that you will have demonstrated resilience and coped with adverse situations. Reminding yourself and rewarding yourself for your own resilience is one way to manage the regular ups and downs of your life. You have shown that you can cope in a range of situations, and in fact you can be your own best helper at the first stage. Have a read through the following two articles on resilience training for students:

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/jan/12/science-resilience-how-to-teach-students-persevere

http://www.wholechildeducation.org/podcast/is-resilience-the-secret-to-student-success

Understanding Mental Health and Finding Help

If you believe that your own mental health needs have gone beyond self-management, reading self-help and so on, you can seek some more specialist advice through https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/ or via the ‘Booklets for young people’ or ‘Useful contacts’ sections at https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/children-and-young-people/

Understanding mental health also means understanding when something has gone beyond a normal or typical experience. As an example, understanding anxiety is something most people can relate to. It is important to realise that anxiety is a normal physiological response to certain situations – a looming deadline or an overdue piece of work, an upcoming exam or driving test for example.

In some situations this can even be helpful, getting you to focus and work hard. However, an anxiety disorder is when you get anxious for a wide variety of reasons that are not typical for other people, or your stress-response becomes overwhelming (hyperventilating, crying, scratching yourself etc.). It is if you recognise elements from these more serious types of signs that you should look to find further help. 

Approaching your teachers, peers or parents

Whilst a common trait with mental health issues is to bury or hide it inside, it is much healthier to have a conversation with a peer, friend, parent or a teacher. The hardest part is getting the conversation started.

You will frequently find that the response of the other person will remind you that there are those who care about and are interested in you, and will help you to see your way to managing the issues more clearly.

It can help to start with some more general terms such as:

“I’ve been having a bit of difficulty with…”
or
“I’m feeling quite low”.

It may be useful to specify you would benefit from 5 minutes to have a quiet chat, when they are likely not to be distracted by other people or in a busy place. Once this is out in the open the conversation will become a two-way street and you will find it progresses more easily.  Some useful resources and guidance on how to talk about mental health can be found at https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health/telling-someone-about-your-mental-health-problem

Normalise the conversation

Remember that the more we talk about Mental Health in general and the more familiar we all become with the issues, the easier those conversations will be. Normalising discussion of mental health rather than treating it as taboo, or embarrassing, is of benefit to us all.

If, in the future, it happens to be you facing such challenges, the means of dealing with the problems and finding the right help should be more apparent and the conversations with others of more benefit.

Healthy Relationships

If you are concerned about your relationship or that of a friend, and suspect that it may be having a negative impact on emotional wellbeing, or even reach the extent of including emotional abuse, then explore the information found at https://www.safe-services.org.uk/tender and talk to someone to express your concerns and feel less alone in confronting the problem.

Getting professional help

There is also a small capacity for a short course of one-to-one counselling available in school. You should speak to your Head of Year or the Head of Sixth Form if you think you would benefit from this, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, ask a parent or another teacher to talk to us on your behalf. 

If you have a feeling that you need urgent help or that you feel so low, angry or upset that you have considered harming yourself, then the best way to get help quickly is by going to your GP and asking if they can refer you for psychiatric support.

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