The Importance of Mental Health and Wellbeing
Our mental health and wellbeing is really important, we have all been impacted by the events over the past few years and for many, we have identified that perhaps we need to focus on looking after our mental health and wellbeing more.
When we lose track of this as a priority it can affect many different areas of our lives, including our ability to shine within education. This page will show you various ways of supporting your mental health and wellbeing.
We all have different experiences with mental health, and our mental wellbeing can change day to day. When you’re not feeling great, it can feel harder to take action to benefit your wellbeing.
However there are small steps we can take in our everyday lives to look after our mental wellbeing. According to the British Medical Association, research has shown that there are many benefits of taking action to support your wellbeing, such as:
- Greater self-confidence and control
- Improved quality of life
- Healthier behaviours
- Better understanding of your own health
How do I know when to take action to benefit my mental wellbeing?
It’s important to notice when your mental wellbeing may be slipping, so that you can take action to boost it.
Here are some questions that you might find helpful to ask yourself if you think that you are experiencing lower mental wellbeing. This is not an exhaustive list of things that you may notice when your mental wellbeing is starting to drop; don’t treat it as a checklist where you have to notice a certain number to take action. It’s worth taking action as soon as you notice one of these signs.
Useful questions to ask yourself:
- Have you been withdrawing and not feeling like socialising lately?
- Have you been distancing yourself from friends and family?
- Have you felt that your academic, sporting or extracurricular performance hasn't been where you'd like it to be recently?
- Have you experienced a significant change in your eating habits - having a much smaller, or bigger, appetite than usual?
- Have you noticed that your sleeping more than usual, finding it difficult to fall asleep or having difficulty staying asleep?
- Have you found it more of a struggle to take care of your personal appearance lately?
How do I know what will help?
When you’re not feeling great, it can be hard to know what will help you to feel better.
It’s a good idea to create a list detailing all the things that you know help you to maintain good wellbeing.
Need some inspiration?
You can access Audio Guides from the NHS on various topics including low mood and depression, sleep problems, low confidence and assertiveness and unhelpful thinking.
The NHS has also developed resources on mental health and self-care for young people.
GETTING INTO A GOOD SLEEP ROUTINE
- Regular sleep and wake times.
- Reduce screen time before bed.
- Do something relaxing before bed like yoga or reading.
- Use an alarm clock rather than your phone, to reduce temptation to sit and scroll in the morning.
- Keep your room tidy and change your bedsheets regularly.
- Write down to-dos and worries before bed so it’s easier to switch off.
DECIDING WHO TO SPEND TIME WITH
- Catch up with family and friends from home.
- Do something you enjoy with friends.
- Spend time with a pet.
- Take some ‘me time’ and relax.
- Plan a fun day for yourself and do the things you enjoy.
THINKING ABOUT FOOD
- Eat a balanced diet
- Treat yourself!
- Cook for yourself and learn a new skill.
- Drink lots of water.
DOING SOMETHING THAT YOU ENJOY
- Volunteer - volunteering or even helping out around the house can benefit mental health. Find out how you can get involved in volunteering by talking to your school or college, or research your local volunteer centre. Depending on your age, you might not be able to volunteer for every organisations but even doing some gardening for an elderly neighbour
- Do something creative: draw, scrapbook, write, knit, dance, play an instrument.
- Play a board game or a computer game.
- Read a book
- Watch your favourite TV show or film.
- Listen to music that makes you happy.
- Meditate or try mindfulness.
MAKING TIME FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Go for a walk or a bike ride.
- Try something gentle like yoga or PE – there's lots available online
- Take up a team sport and get to know other people.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT
- Clean and declutter.
- Spend time outdoors in the fresh air and nature.
- Take in the beauty of your surroundings.
Remember, you don't have to do ALL of these things, you should only do what adds value to your time and helps you to improve your mental state.
What can I do if I don’t have a lot of time?
Being at school or college can be a busy time, which can make it harder for you to take the time to look after your mental wellbeing. When you’re busy, stresses can mount up and really take their toll - so it’s important to take the time to prioritise your own mental wellbeing. If you have:
- Make a cup of tea and enjoy it undistracted
- Cuddle a pet or soft toy
- Write a to-do list
- Text a friend
- Do a guided meditation
- Take a walk
- Do a quick tidy and clean of your room/workspace
- Listen to your favourite songs
- Take exercise - yoga, a run, a brisk walk
- Call a friend or family member for a catch-up
- Have a nap
- Watch an episode of your favourite TV show
- Go to the shops with a friend(s)
- Cook or bake something tasty
Taking the time to look after your mental wellbeing can be a challenge. A powerful way to take positive steps is to write down your intention in a clear, time-specific goal.
When you are in education, if you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, it is important that you access the services available for you to support you. These services can be found in all educational establishments, within schools as pastoral support or visiting counsellors, and within colleges and universities as student support services.
In accessing these services, they will help you to make changes to your life that will complement your ability to succeed in your education.
There's lots of resources, workshops and activities available in our resource library. Click below to take a look:
Visit these websites for sources of support, information and help:
themix.org.uk Essential support for under 25s, for any challenges young people may face
youngminds.org.uk The UKs leading charity for children and young peoples mental health. Information, advice and resources.
studentminds.org.uk The UKs student mental health charity.
https://www.studentminds.org.uk/startinguniversity.html Student Minds Resources for starting university.
https://www.childline.org.uk/ Get advice and support from Childline.
https://studentspace.org.uk/ A range of articles to support young people with wellbeing and advice.
Student Mind - YouTube videos with young people talking about topics such as mental health and looking out for your mates.
Sign up for a free self-care starter kit from the Blurt Foundation