Mental Health Conditions

Understanding Mental Health

Understanding mental health

Understanding mental health 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 25 March 2021

What is mental health?

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

For children and young people, this means that they are able to successfully reach their developmental and emotional milestones, learn necessary social skills and can function well at home, at school and in their communities.

What is good mental health?

Having good mental health is much more than simply not dealing with any mental health difficulties. It means that the child or young person is able to think, feel, react and behave in ways that they want and need to in their daily life. Despite having some bad days, which is quite normal for everyone, this does not affect their ability to function normally.

For example, Farah lives a well-balanced life where she is able to go to school, socialise with friends and enjoy her time at home with family members. On most days she feels quite happy and looks forward to her day. Sometimes she does feel sad, especially when she has small fallouts with friends. But this never lasts for long, and she is able to feel better shortly after.

What is poor mental health?

When a child or young person is struggling with their mental health it means that they are having some challenges to think, feel, react and/or behave in the ways that they want and need to. This can make it difficult for them to live their life to the fullest, or as they normally would.

For example, Hayden has been having some trouble to concentrate at school. He often feels worried and fearful and is pre-occupied with thinking about ways to avoid the things that make him feel fearful. He used to enjoy meeting up with friends after school but has now started to make excuses just to avoid going. Hayden has been struggling with this on more days than not.

Where to get treatment or support?

If your loved one or yourself is struggling with poor mental health, it is a good idea to find support as soon as you can. You might:

  • Tell your parent/carer

  • Talk to your GP

  • Talk to your school counsellor

  • Talk to a mental health professional

  • Access available helplines (e.g. Childline, Samaritans, Shout)

  • Access self-help resources (e.g. books, wellness apps)

  • Practice self-care (e.g. exercising, taking time off, social media break, spending time in nature)

Common myths about mental health

Bad parenting causes mental illnesses”

Mental illness can develop due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. For this reason, it is not correct to say that bad parenting causes mental illness. Parent behaviour can influence the development of mental illness, but this is not always the case for all children and young people with a mental illness.

Children can’t have a mental illness like depression, those are adult problems

Children can also suffer from depression, although not in the same way as adults. The signs of depression can be less obvious in children. It is important to understand what depression can look like in children, so that you can watch out for signs that they might be struggling.

Children will eventually grow out of it”

Mental illness can start early in childhood and can continue on to adulthood. It is not always the case that the child will grow out of it and it should never be assumed that every child will do so. Early treatment is important to ensure that children can recover successfully and will less likely continue to suffer in adulthood.

Useful Resources 

World Health Organization

You can find useful information and reports about mental health on the World Health Organization website. Click here to access the link.

NHS

You can find an exhaustive list of mental health charities and helplines available on the NHS website. Click here to access the link.

Myths about children’s mental health

To read our blog post on myths about children’s mental health, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Post-traumatic stress disorder

How to help someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How to help someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 22 February 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that suffers from PTSD. It is a disorder that tends to interfere with their everyday life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand PTSD

It is a good idea to read as much information on PTSD as you can. Understanding PTSD and how it works will help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected, and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on PTSD, you can view our pages on PTSD and getting help for PTSD

Help them to feel safe and supported

A person with PTSD sees the world as a dangerous and frightening place. It is important for you to help them feel safe and supported.

Be dependable and trustworthy: Try to stick to your promises and commitment towards them. Remind them that you are there for them, whenever they need you.

Show acceptance: PTSD might be something that is difficult for you to understand, but it is a real problem for them. Let them know that they are accepted no matter what. Avoid being judgemental or critical about their difficulties. Here are 20 things not to say to someone with PTSD.

Be patient: PTSD might make it difficult for them to do certain activities. It will take some time before they can recover from this disorder. Be patient and continue to show your support without putting on too much pressure.

Help them to find the right support

You can encourage them to find support through a GP or a therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources (e.g. leaflets, mindfulness apps, relaxation sessions)

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Create a secure environment for them

You can make some adjustments that will help them feel more safe and secure, wherever they are. You might:

  • Avoid the things that trigger them (e.g. crowded places, loud noises, sudden movements)

  • Let friends and family know how to approach them

  • Try to keep a calm atmosphere at home

  • Minimize stress at home (e.g. avoiding arguments, letting the neighbours know)

  • Allow them to have their personal space

Be open to listen

Take the time to just sit with them and listen. You do not always need to give advice and have all the answers. It is more important that your loved one feels heard by you. This will help to create a safe space for them, where they can feel comfortable to share their difficulties out loud. 

Help them to cope during a flashback

Be prepared to support your loved one as they experience a flashback or panic attack. This can be a very stressful situation for both you and your loved one. Here are some things that you can do:

  • Stay calm and relaxed

  • Be mindful about making sudden movements

  • Help them to ground themselves by getting them to describe their surroundings

  • Encourage them to take some deep breaths for some minutes

  • Let them know that they might be having a flashback

  • Reassure them that they are safe now 

Help them to have a routine

Having a routine can help them to feel less anxious because they will know what to expect. You might help them to:

  • Make a schedule for their day

  • Make a checklist

  • Have a regular dinner and bedtime routine

  • Talk in advance about any changes to the schedule 

Know what NOT to do

When it comes to our loved ones, it makes sense to do whatever it takes to help them feel better. But this is not always a good thing. Here are some things to be mindful of when supporting a loved one with PTSD:

  • Do not blame or be critical of their difficulties

  • Do not tell them to snap out of it

  • Do not pressure them into situations that make them uncomfortable

  • Avoid overpowering them by doing everything for them, when they are capable of doing it themselves

  • Don’t assume they will be okay in certain situations without asking first

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members also involved in supporting your loved one

  • Schedule some time off for yourself

  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources 

NHS
To read more information about PTSD on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link. 

MIND
To read information about helping someone with PTSD on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

PTSD UK
To read information about helping someone with PTSD on the PTSD UK website, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

How to help someone with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

How to help someone with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 1200 858 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 12 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that suffers from OCD. Especially, when the OCD interferes with their everyday life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand OCD

It is a good idea to read as much information on OCD as you can. Understanding OCD and how it works will help to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected, and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on OCD, you can view our pages on OCD and getting help for OCD

Help them to feel supported

It can be easy for someone to feel alone and isolated as they try to cope with OCD. Your attitude towards their difficulties can make a difference.

Show acceptance- Their difficulty to control their obsessions and compulsions might make them feel like they are flawed. For this reason, it is important to let them know that they are not flawed, and they are loved and valued no matter what.

Give validation- The OCD might be something that is difficult for you to understand, but it is a real problem for them. Acknowledge the ways that OCD is an issue for them with an attitude that is non-judgmental and non-critical.

Be patient- The OCD might make it difficult for them to do certain activities. It will take some time before they can learn to overcome this disorder. Be patient and continue to show your support without putting on too much pressure.

Help them to find the right support

You can encourage them to find support through a GP or a therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist.

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources (e.g. leaflets, mindfulness apps, relaxation sessions)

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Remind them to take their medication

  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Talk openly about OCD

It is good to engage your loved one in open conversations about their difficulties with OCD. Often times, your loved one might feel embarrassed about their obsessions and compulsions.

Being able to talk about it means that your loved one does not have to feel ashamed. This might also help you to discuss different strategies that you can try together, to overcome some of their difficulties. 

Help them to live as normally as possible

Encourage them to continue to do activities even if some might cause them to feel a bit anxious. For example, do not stop inviting friends over at the house because of the fear of germs.

Help them to live life as normally as possible instead of accommodating the fear. Helping your loved one to continue to avoid certain situations does not help them to overcome OCD in the long run.

Set limits  

When it comes to our loved ones, it makes sense to do whatever it takes to help them cope with OCD. But this is not always a good thing. It is important to set limits on how much reassurance you can give when they feel anxious.

You might have a conversation with them or discuss with their therapist on how much reassurance you can provide. This might seem a bit harsh, but it helps your loved one to learn how to tolerate feelings of discomfort and overcome the OCD.

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your loved one of the things they are good at. It can be easy to focus on all the ways that they struggle with OCD and can’t do certain activities. Point out their strengths and the areas where they do well. This will help them to build their self-esteem and remind them that they are separate from the disorder. 

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members also involved in supporting your loved one

  • Schedule some time off for yourself

  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources  

NHS
To read more information about OCD on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

MIND
To read information about helping someone with OCD on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

OCD Action
To read information about helping someone with OCD on the OCD Action website, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Conduct disorders

How to help someone with conduct disorders

How to help someone with conduct disorders 1200 799 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 12 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with a conduct disorder. It is a disorder that affects the child’s behaviour, as well as others in the child’s life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand conduct disorders

It is a good idea to read as much information about conduct disorders as you can. Understanding this disorder and what it means, can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on conduct disorders, you can view our pages on conduct disorders and getting help for conduct disorders.

Help them to find the right support

If the challenging behaviours begin to get out of control, you should get professional support. You can contact the following services:

  • The GP

  • Mental health services

  • School special education needs coordinator (SENCO)

  • Parent/carer training for children with behavioural problems

Be positive and have hope

Continuous misbehaviour is not easy for any parent or carer to cope with. But it is important to stay positive and continue to believe that the behaviour can stop, as long as you follow the advice from professionals and stay consistent.

Give more attention to good behaviours

It can be easy to pay a lot of attention to the negative behaviours. Try to shift your attention to the positive behaviours, no matter how small and give praises. This is important because often times the child misbehaves as a way of getting attention. This will help them to understand that misbehaving will not get them what they want.

Be clear and consistent about rules and boundaries

Explain and show that there are consequences for their behaviour. Let them know the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. For example, it is okay to feel frustrated, but it is never okay to hit your brother or sister. If you hit, you will have a time out.

It is also important for all parents/carers to follow the same rules and boundaries. This will help the child to understand that the boundaries stay the same no matter who they are with.

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your child about the things they are good at. It can be easy to focus on all the ways that they misbehave and can’t seem to listen. This can cause the child to act up even more.

Point out their strengths and the areas where they do well. This will help them to build their self-esteem and will encourage them to have more positive behaviours.

Encourage them to stay physically active

Doing physical activities such as exercise can help the child to release excessive energy. Exercise can help them to focus their attention and energy in a healthy way. You could invite them out for any type of exercise that will get them moving (e.g. a walk, jog, group exercise class).

These activities will also help to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, which can fight off other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members also involved in supporting your loved one

  • Schedule some time off for yourself

  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources  

Nip in the Bud
To read general information about conduct disorders on the Nip in the Bud website, you can click here to access the link.

MIND
To read information about helping someone with anger problems on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link. 

NHS
To read more information about conduct disorders on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Depression

How to help someone with depression

How to help someone with depression 1024 600 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 14 January 2021

It can be hard knowing that your loved one is suffering from depression. Especially when it is causing problems in their everyday life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand depression

It is a good idea to read as much information about depression as you can. It is possible that your loved one does not even know that they are suffering from depression. Understanding depression and how it works will help you to recognize the signs that your loved one needs help.

To read more information on depression, you can view our pages on depression and getting help for depression.

Help them to feel supported

It is common for people with depression to isolate themselves from others. Your attitude towards them can make a difference.

Show acceptance- They might be struggling with very negative thoughts about the world and themselves. For this reason, it is important to show acceptance and remind them that they are loved and valued no matter what.

Give validation- Their low mood might be something that is difficult for you to understand, but it is a real problem for them. Avoid saying things like “just snap out of it”. Acknowledge that this is a rough time for them with an attitude that is non-judgmental and non-critical.

Be persistent- Their lack of interest in doing things or staying in touch might be discouraging to you. It is good to remember that this is due to the symptoms of depression. Keep showing your support to them, even though they might seem uninterested.

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP or therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to search for a therapist

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Know when to get urgent support

When your loved one is dealing with depression, it is good to keep an eye out for signs of self-harm or suicide. If you suspect that your loved one is at risk of hurting themself, you should get them immediate support.

You should contact a GP or the NHS urgent helpline. 

Ask them what they need

They may or may not be able to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help them. This way you won’t be burdened with trying to figure it out on your own.

Encourage them to do fun activities

Help them to do more uplifting activities. For example, you might put on a funny movie or take them out to their favourite restaurant. This will allow them to experience positive feelings that will help to fight off the depression.

Encourage them to stay active

Encourage them to stay physically active. This is very important. This might include going for walks, jogs, cycling, going to the gym or a group exercise class. Any activity that gets them moving will help their body to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain that will also fight off the depression.

Know what NOT to do

When a loved one is dealing with depression, it is good to be mindful of the things we say and the way we react, as this might affect them. For example, be mindful of:

Not taking the depressive symptoms personally- When a person is depressed, their lack of interest, motivation or irritability might be misunderstood and taken personally by others. Reacting negatively might make your loved one feel guilty and even make the depression worse.

Not calling them lazy- When a person is depressed, they usually experience a lack of motivation. It is important to avoid using hurtful words such as “lazy” to describe them, during this period. It is more useful for you to find ways to help them be more active every day (e.g. inviting them out on a walk).

Don’t tell them to “just think positive”- This is not helpful for a person struggling with depression. This could also make them feel guilty for not being able to think positively. It is more useful to simply listen and try to understand the ways that depression is really a problem for them.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too.

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources  

MIND
To read information about helping someone with depression on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

NHS
To read information about helping someone with depression on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

For urgent support
To get urgent help, you or your loved one should contact the NHS urgent helpline or the Samaritans

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Bipolar disorder

How to help someone with bipolar disorder

How to help someone with bipolar disorder 1020 700 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 10 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Especially, since it is a condition that affects many areas of the person’s life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand bipolar disorder

It is a good idea to read as much information about bipolar disorder as you can. Understanding this disorder and how it works will help you to recognize the signs that your loved one needs help.

To read more information on bipolar disorder, you can view our pages on bipolar disorder and getting help for bipolar disorder.

Help them to feel supported

A loved one with bipolar disorder can feel isolated sometimes, because they struggle with a condition that can be difficult for others to understand. Your attitude towards them can make a big difference.

Show acceptance- They might be struggling with very negative thoughts or they might feel embarrassed after certain episodes. For this reason, it is important to show acceptance and remind them that they are loved and valued no matter what.

Give validation- Their episodes might be something that is difficult for you to understand, but it is a real problem for them. Avoid saying things like “just snap out of it”. Acknowledge that this is a real problem for them with an attitude that is non-judgmental and non-critical.

Be patient- During certain episodes, the person might be impulsive, aggressive or rude towards you. Do not feel discouraged if this happens. Learn to separate the person from the disorder, stay calm and continue to show your support.

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP, psychiatrist or a therapist. If this involves your child who is under the age of consent, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP, psychiatrist or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Learn about their medication

  • Give them reminders to take their medication

Know when to get urgent support

When your loved one is experiencing an extremely low mood, it is good to keep an eye out for signs of self-harm or suicide. If you suspect that your loved one is at risk of hurting themself, you should get immediate support.

You should contact a GP or the NHS urgent helpline.

Know the warnings signs

Most people will have some warnings signs before they experience an episode of depression or mania. It will be helpful for you to pay attention to the behaviours that you usually notice before an episode.

For example, you might observe increased energy and more restlessness before an episode of mania. Knowing the warning signs will allow you to talk about it with your loved one, and to be prepared to take action.

Ask them what they need

They may or may not be able to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help. This way you won’t have to figure it out on your own.

Plan support in advance

Have a conversation with your loved one and plan out what you and others can do during an episode. You might want to consider the following:

  • Making sure you have a list of emergency contact services

  • Taking hold of bank cards, vehicles or any other important assets

  • Be ready to prepare meals that are easy to eat, especially when they are unwell

  • Think about helping them with their usual tasks that they won’t be able to get done

  • Talk with your loved one and their healthcare provider on what to do if they refuse to take their medication

Help them to reduce stress

You can find different ways to reduce the chances of an episode being triggered by helping them to avoid stress. For example, you might:

  • Try to keep a positive atmosphere at home

  • Volunteer to help them with work or other deadlines

  • Encourage them to do activities that relieve stress (e.g. light exercise, deep breathing)

  • Keep the environment quiet with few stimulations

Talk about challenging behaviours

Sometimes when your loved one is unwell, they might do or say things that are offensive, cruel or embarrassing. It is reasonable for you to feel upset by this. For this reason, it is good to talk to your loved one about these behaviours in a calm way.

You might be able to gain a better understanding of these difficulties from their point of view. By having open conversations, you can avoid feeling resentful towards your loved one. This will put you in a better position to continue to support them.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members also involved in supporting your loved one

  • Schedule some time off for yourself

  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources 

Bipolar UK
To read information about helping someone with bipolar disorder on the Bipolar UK website, you can click here to access the link.

MIND

To read information about helping someone with bipolar disorder on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link

For urgent support

To get urgent help, you or your loved one should contact the NHS urgent helpline or the Samaritans.

 

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Autism & mental health

How to support someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

How to support someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 1300 779 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 10 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with ASD. It is a condition that has no cure and that needs to be managed. There are some things that you can do to help support your loved one. These are discussed below.

Understand ASD

It is a good idea to read as much information about autism as you can. Understanding autism and what it means can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on autism, you can view our pages on autism and mental health and getting help for autism.

Find the right support

It is important for you to find support for your child as soon as you suspect that they might have autism. Your child will have a better chance at a successful life, if they get support starting from an early age. You might:

  • Book an appointment with a GP, paediatrician or a therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. attending some sessions if you need to or waiting in the waiting room)

  • Find parent groups to connect with and ask for advice. You can find local support groups on the NHS support page for autism.

  • Take available online courses on autism to help you learn better ways to support your loved one. You can find these on the family support page of the national autistic society website.

Be mindful of their sensitivities

Many children with ASD are hypersensitive to things such as lights, sounds, smells and movement. It is important for you to know what they might be sensitive to, so that you can make adjustments to their environment and they can feel more comfortable.

Understand how they communicate

You will be able to support your loved one better if you understand their way of communicating. Do not rely on only verbal forms of communication. They might also use some non-verbal forms of communication such as body-language, movements or facial expressions.

Learning the ways that they communicate will help you understand what they need. This can also help you to improve the connection between you and your loved one. 

Educate family and friends about autism

It will be helpful for your loved one if family and friends also understand autism and the way it affects your loved one. This will help them to be mindful and make changes to the way they interact with the child.

For example, if your child is sensitive to loud noises, they can try to avoid making sudden loud noises when they are around. This will help your child to feel more at ease, when they are around other people. 

Encourage them to have a structure

Children with ASD see other people and the world differently from others. Sometimes this can be overwhelming and can cause them to feel anxious, especially when there are uncertainties.

Having a routine can help them to complete tasks and feel less anxious because they will know what to expect. You might help them to:

  • Make a regular timetable

  • Make a checklist

  • Use fun colour codes for their schedule

  • Use creative stimulators (e.g. fridge magnets, sticky notes, phone reminders)

  • Have a regular bedtime routine

  • Be prepared for any changes to the schedule

Be patient and accepting

A child with autism has an entire life to develop more and more skills that will help them to be successful in their daily life. It is important to be patient with your loved one.

It is also good to be accepting towards your loved one. Sometimes, parents might get carried away with trying to help their child because they are different. Instead of focusing on the things that they are not good at, you could focus more on their strengths and other ways that they are special. 

Make time for fun

Your child also needs to do fun activities that does not feel like work. Don’t allow your child’s schedule to be full of therapy and skills programmes without any time for fun. Schedule time for them to do activities that they enjoy, because play is important for development and learning for all children.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members also involved in supporting your loved one

  • Schedule some time off for yourself

  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources 

NHS

To read information for families on supporting a child with autism on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

Autism Speaks
To read information for parents on helping a child with autism on the Autism speaks website, you can click here to access the link.

National Autistic Society

To read information and access educational courses about autism on the National Autistic Society website, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Anorexia nervosa

How to help someone with anorexia nervosa

How to help someone with anorexia nervosa 2000 1335 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 6 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that struggles with an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa. Especially, as it is a mental health disorder that also affects the person’s physical health. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand anorexia nervosa

It is a good idea to read as much information about anorexia as you can. Understanding anorexia and how it works can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways you can help.

To read more information about anorexia, you can view our pages on anorexia nervosa and getting help for anorexia nervosa.

Help them to feel supported

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder that can make your loved one feel extremely isolated, because others can have a hard time understanding their difficulties. It is important to make sure that you try to understand how this is a problem for them, so that they feel understood and supported. To do this, you can:

Show acceptance: They are most likely struggling with negative and often critical thoughts about themselves. One of the best things you can do is to remind them that they are valued and loved, no matter what.

Separate the person from the disorder: This is very important. It is good to remember that the person is not the disorder. This will allow you to have less feelings of frustration and resentment towards your loved one, because it is not their fault. Your loved one can also recognize that they are not the disorder and can feel less guilty about it.

Be persistent: When supporting a loved one with an eating disorder, it is common for you to receive a lot of resistance. This might happen when you are trying to encourage them towards healthier eating habits or inviting them out to a social event. Try not to feel discouraged and continue to encourage and invite them, even if they refuse.

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP or therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to search for a therapist

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

Know when to get urgent support

When your loved one is dealing with anorexia nervosa, it is good to keep an eye out for signs of self-harm or suicide. If you suspect that your loved one is at risk of hurting themself, you should get them immediate support.

You should contact a GP or the NHS urgent helpline.

Ask them what they need

They may or may not to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help them. This way you won’t have to figure it out on your own.

Support them during mealtimes

Mealtime is the most stressful part of the day for a person with an eating disorder. It will be helpful for them if you find ways to make this time less distressing, without enabling the disorder. For example, you might:

  • Plan the meals with them in advance, so that they feel less anxious during mealtime

  • Involve other siblings that can help to distract them

  • Have neutral conversations that do not involve weight, shape or dieting

  • Encourage them to do an enjoyable activity during mealtime (e.g. colouring, watching TV, doing a puzzle)

  • Reassure them that you are there for them

Be patient in difficult situations

When supporting a loved one with an eating disorder, it is common for them to respond with resistance by being  angry or shutting down. It is important for you to not take this personally and realize that it is the eating disorder that is being challenged. Here are some ways that you can manage these situations:

  • Give them some space until they calm down

  • Try to resist the urge to respond back in an angry tone

  • It is reasonable to express your frustrations, but try to do it while they are absent

  • Take some time out to compose yourself during these difficult situations

  • Encourage them in a calm way without putting too much pressure on them

  • Take the time to come up with creative ways to encourage them 

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too.

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources  

MIND
To read information about helping someone with anorexia nervosa on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

Beat eating disorders

To read information about helping someone with an eating disorder on the beat eating disorders website, you can click here to access the link 

Young Minds

To read advice for carers and parents of young people with eating disorder on the Young Minds website, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

How to help someone with ADHD

How to support someone with ADHD

How to support someone with ADHD 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 6 January 2021

It can be challenging when you have a loved one that struggles with ADHD, as it usually affects many areas of the person’s life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand ADHD

It is a good idea to read as much information about ADHD as you can. Understanding ADHD and what it means can help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on ADHD, you can view our pages on ADHD and getting help for ADHD.

Help them to feel supported

ADHD is a condition that can be misunderstood as a kind of deliberate misbehaviour. Therefore, people suffering from ADHD can easily feel as though they lack support. It is important to make sure that they feel supported. To do this, you can:

Show acceptance- Because of their challenges, they can feel like they are not good enough. Remind them that they are loved and valued no matter what.

Be patient- Be mindful about how you react to their behaviour. Avoid reacting whilst you feel frustrated. Take the time to think about responding in more a helpful way.

Separate the person from the disorder- This is very important. It is good to remember that the person is not the disorder. This will allow you to avoid feelings of frustration and resentment towards your loved one, because it is not their fault. This means that your loved one can also be free from feelings of guilt.   

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP or therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to search for a therapist

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Ask them what they need

They may or may not be able to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help them. This way you won’t have to figure it out on your own.

Encourage them to have a routine

Having a routine can help your loved one to have more structure in their daily life. Following a schedule and having a plan can make tasks much easier to complete for a person with ADHD. You might help them to:

  • Make a timetable

  • Make a checklist

  • Use colour codes for their schedule

  • Use creative reminders (e.g. fridge magnets, sticky notes, phone reminders)

  • Schedule free time

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your loved one of the things they are good at. You can point out their strengths and talents, as a way to remind them of the positive things in their life. This will uplift them and help them to appreciate their own strengths, despite struggling with ADHD.

Encourage them to stay physically active

Doing physical activities such as exercise might help your loved one to release excessive energy. Exercise can help them to focus their attention and energy in a healthy way. You could invite them out for any type of exercise that will get them moving (e.g. a walk, jog, group exercise class).

These activities will also help to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, which can fight off other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too.

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources 

MIND
To read general information about helping someone with a mental health problem on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

NHS

To read information about living with ADHD on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

ADHD Foundation

To read advice for carers and parents of children with ADHD on the ADHD foundation website, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Self care when helping someone

Self-care and mental health

Self-care and mental health 2000 1333 Team Mindsum

This article covers:

– What is self-care?

– Self-care strategies

What is self-care?

Self-care means anything that you do to preserve your mental and physical health. Self-care techniques can help you to manage and even prevent symptoms of many mental health problems.  

Self-care might include different activities that help you to calm down, relax and feel better. There is no one-way to practice self-care. It depends on you and what you find most helpful for your mental health.

It is important to mention that self-care is not a substitute for going to see a professional. It is always good to consider going to see a mental health expert.

Self-care strategies

Below is an example list of ten things that could be considered as self-care strategies:

1. Doing things you love

Whether this means putting on your favourite TV series, singing, painting or spending time with friends, as long as it is safe, make time for it. These activities will bring you a kind of pleasure that can help you to keep away negative thoughts.

2. Writing things down

Putting down your thoughts in a journal can allow you to release difficult emotions and express things that you may not feel comfortable to say out loud.

This can also allow you to notice how your mood changes on a day-to-day basis. It is also a good way for you to learn more about yourself.

3. Organising your day

Having a schedule for your day can be very helpful for you to feel productive and grounded each day. Organising small activities to do throughout the day will also help you to break them down into achievable tasks.

By doing this, you might be able to avoid stress because things like schoolwork, house chores and TV time will not pile up on you.

4. Spend time with supportive people

We all need to be around people that we care about, especially when we are struggling. Having a quick chat or a deep discussion with a family, friend or mentor can help to take the pressure off.

Supportive people in our lives usually give good advice and make you feel like you are not alone. This is very important because when you are dealing with a mental illness, it is easy to feel isolated.

5. Physical activities and lifestyle changes

Having a healthy lifestyle will help you to feel good from the inside out. This might include doing any kind of physical activity such as walking, running, dancing, strength training, yoga, Zumba and eating a diet that includes good nutrients for the body.

Physical exercises make you feel good by the release of endorphins in the brain. This is helpful for boosting your mood during the day.

6. Take a social media break

Even though social media is a good way to stay connected with other people, it is a good idea to take small breaks from being online. This is because spending excessive time on social media exposes you to filtered images and content that do not always reflect reality.

Social media might also carry pressures of responding to messages, comments and likes. Many people find it helpful to have a period of social media cleanse, where they simply deactivate their account, delete apps or disable notifications until they are able to enjoy some time offline.

7. Reduce stimulants consumption and other drugs

Some young people believe that alcohol and cigarettes are helpful for easing stress. But it is useful to consider the overall impact of these stimulants on your life and whether this is healthy. These stimulants can be addictive, so it is important to try to cut down and to know your limits.

8. Make time for therapeutic activities

It is helpful to spend time doing those activities that help you to calm down and clear your mind. This might include doing mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, going for a hike, spending time in nature or speaking positive words of affirmation to yourself.

9. Spirituality

Not everyone has spiritual or religious beliefs, but if you do, turning to your faith can be helpful. This might include praying, visiting places of worship, reading religious texts and spending time in a community of others with the same beliefs.

Some people find it helpful to reflect and to believe in a higher power. This can provide a great sense of comfort and purpose, especially during times of difficulty.

10. Be kind to yourself

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with kindness in the same way you would do to a friend. Encourage and allow yourself to make mistakes knowing that you are just human, and mistakes happen.

Talk to yourself as though you were talking to a friend. You would not be harsh to a friend, so why should you be so hard on yourself? Being compassionate towards yourself is the best way to quieten the critical voice that lives inside your head.

List of useful resources

Mind
To read their information on self-care, you can click here to access the link.

Anna Freud
To read their list of information on self-care, you can click here to access the link.

Mental Health Foundation
To read their information on self-care, you can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

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