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What to do if you’re a young person and it’s all getting too much

Sometimes things can seem overwhelming, and you may feel you can’t cope.

You might be feeling down and sad. But if those feelings have become very deep and intense, and you don’t know what to do about them, you might think the only solution is to end your life or hurt yourself.

It’s okay not to feel okay, there is hope for you and you can get through this.

You’re not the only one who feels this way – many people feel like this at some time in their lives – and more people are feeling this way at the moment because of the coronavirus.

What’s important for you to know is that there are lots of ways of dealing with these feelings.

It’s absolutely possible to come out the other side and feel okay again.

Here are some warning signs you should look out for:

  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Deep sadness
  • Losing interest in daily life
  • Lots of increasing trouble with sleeping and eating
  • Feeling helpless or worthless
  • Harming yourself

If you experience any of these, you don’t need to suffer in silence. It’s not good to spend too much time alone, especially if you are feeling low and vulnerable. It’s at times like these that you need to be able to talk to someone.

Who can I ask for help?

We know it’s hard, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may feel that you don’t want to burden other people. You worry about what they might think or that they could tell others.

But the truth is this – people care about you and they will want to help you.

First, think about who would you feel most comfortable talking to? Many of us prefer talking to family or friends, or you may want to talk to professionals (staff working at your school or college, your GP, health professional or social worker), support groups, helplines or online discussion forums.

After you have thought about the different people you could talk to, decide who is the best person to talk to for you.

When you speak to them, explain how you feel and what support you would like. Sharing your worries with someone you trust can help you see your problems in a different way and understand that harming yourself or killing yourself isn’t the only way through this. They can help by spending time with you, talking things through or giving you help. They can also help you get professional support in a way you feel comfortable with.

Where can I get help?

If you’re in an emergency or you need help right now, remember you can always call 999. But this might not be the right thing for you, so there are other ways you can get help.

You can talk to your GP by giving the practice a ring – and you can ask to speak a GP who you know or trust as well. Or you can speak to your hospital/community doctor or nurse if you have one who looks after you and you know them.

Most parts of England have a helpline if you need support with a mental health crisis. You can find out the number to ring for your local area at nhs.uk.

There are other places where help is there for you:

  • YoungMinds Crisis Messenger provides free crisis support if you are having a crisis – it’s every day of the week, at any time day or night. You just need to text YM to 85258. All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
  • Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide) gives advice and support for young people who feel like they want to take their own life, and all their advice is confidential. You can ring their line, HOPELineUK on 0800 068 41 41 or you can text them on 07786 209 687.
  • Samaritans  are an organisation you can ring if at any time of the day or night. They will help you and listen to how you’re feeling. You can ring them on 116 123. You can also email them : jo@samartians.org
  • Childline will help you if you’re under 19 and you can confidentially call, email, or chat online about any problem big or small. Their freephone 24 hour helpline is 0800 1111. You can sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address. Or you can chat 1:1 with an online advisor
  • SHOUT provides free, confidential, 24/7 text message support in the UK for anyone who is struggling to cope. Text 85258 for SHOUT the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text service on, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime.

Other types of support

If you have autism, the National Autistic Society have helpful advice on their website on how to deal with this uncertain time with the coronavirus.

Life can be scary and it’s okay not to feel okay. Remember that you matter. You don’t have to suffer and there are people who want to help you. You can get through this and feel okay again.

Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan

Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan is the Associate National Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health for NHS England.

Prathiba is a Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry working in a large mental health and community trust (Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust). Lead consultant since 2005, she became Clinical Director in 2015 and continues to work clinically within a community child and adolescent mental health service in South Manchester. She graduated from Medicine (University of Manchester) before completing her MD, inspiring her interest in the needs of children and young people in contact with the criminal justice system.

Over the last 12 years she has published in journals and books and contributed to national reports and guidance for the Youth Justice Board and Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

She has contributed to the development of the Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool across the youth justice secure estate for the Department of Health and NHS England and continues to be research active as an Honorary Research Fellow and Lecturer for the Offender Health Research Network (University of Manchester).

As a clinical advisor (Greater Manchester and East Cheshire Strategic Clinical Networks), she has also promoted the development of regional clinical guidance across Greater Manchester.