Understanding You: World Mental Health Week 2018

It’s World Mental Health Week from 7th - 13th October 2018 and this year the focus is building awareness for young people and their mental health in a changing world.

Below are some helpful tips for young people on dealing with mental health challenges and some guidelines to understanding why they may be feeling or behaving in a certain way.

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Here’s the thing: A lot of young people are already very conscious of their mental health.

You may already be aware of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addictions and, in some cases, a whole array of less commonly known mental health issues affecting your peers or other young people.

However, that doesn’t always take away from the distress, frustration and sometimes embarrassment when you’re suddenly the one who is unable to calm yourself down after an awkward social interaction. Or, if you are struggling to drag yourself out of bed to do the activities you used to love, or suddenly thinking about food around the clock. Being told you’re not the only one suffering, and being given labels to put on your struggles can relieve some of that distress. But simply having a label to your problems doesn’t solve them.

What does help is understanding why you’re feeling, thinking and acting like this, and using that understanding to figure out how you can start to change.

As a start, try to ask yourself:

How are you different from how you used to be?

Start using a diary if you’re struggling to keep track, and write a few bullet points each day about how you feel, what your thoughts are focused on, and what kinds of things you’re doing/not doing.

When did these mental health changes begin?

Were there any changes to your daily routine, your relationships or any other important part of your life that seemed to coincide with or perhaps set off these changes?

What are you missing?

Do you have some sense of what you long for, but can’t get at the moment? What feels out of reach, or too difficult to achieve right now?

What resources do you have to start to address the issues?

Who can you turn to for a listening ear, practical advice, a good time, professional guidance, distraction, financial support, or for practical help? What experiences and skills do you have that can help you through this, from your early years up until now?

When do you know that you’re out of your depth and need outside help?

  • If you’ve tried to work on the issue yourself, but it’s not improving

  • If you frequently feel out of control of your behaviour, because of how you think or feel. Like feeling so down and low in energy that you can’t get out of bed. Or being so anxious about being around other people that you are avoiding your friends/classes/hobbies. Or you’re using alcohol or drugs to make up for how you feel

  • If you’re beginning to feel hopeless or helpless, or experiencing suicidal thoughts

Where can you go for help?

Your GP:

Your doctor can assess whether you might be experiencing mental health issues to an extent that you would need further help and refer you to the right service.

A psychologist or counsellor:

If you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, but you don’t feel right, you might need someone to help you figure it out. A psychologist or counsellor can help you by asking questions, getting you to reflect on your experience and express what’s going on for you. They can help you formulate an understanding of what the problem is, where it likely came from, and what it will take to address it. You can then work collaboratively on it.

Some other supports available:


Free 24/7 helpline

1850 609 090


Pieta House

Centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide

01 601 0000



Aware offers support to sufferers of depression and their families

1890 303 302



A confidential resource for children up to the age of 18 to submit problems or speak to a trained volunteer about any difficulties they are experiencing in their lives

01 6767960


Anxiety Ireland

A website which focuses on dealing with & overcoming anxiety. Tools include articles, videos and other resources to help overcome anxiety and stress related problems


Julie Farrar