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We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health.

Being mentally healthy means that we feel good about ourselves. It means we can make and keep positive relationships with others and can feel and manage all kinds of emotions.

These emotions can range from happiness, excitement and curiosity through to less comfortable feelings, such as anger, fear or sadness.

Looking after your mental health is really important. Good mental health allows us to cope with life’s ups and downs. It helps us feel in control of our lives and to ask for help from others when we need support.

Everyone you know will sometimes feel down, worried or anxious. We all need to look after our mental health, and know who to turn to if things feel too much.

We’ve put together information on some of the things that you might be experiencing, or some of the difficulties that you might be having. There are also some top tips on how to manage them.

If you think you might need help (like talking to someone about how you are feeling), we also have information about where you can get support.

You can find tips on how to deal with problems such as anxiety, stress, body image, relationships and anger in The Little Blue Book of Sunshine. You can download this as an e-book for free from Google Play Books and Apple Books.

Download on the Google Play Books store


Everyone gets stressed at some point in their life, but it affects people differently.

A little stress can be a good thing as it can motivate you to get something done. Stress becomes a problem when you don’t feel you can to cope.

You might feel sad or tearful, anxious or worried, angry or unable to concentrate. Sometimes stress makes it hard to eat or sleep properly. You might even get physical pains.

Being stressed for a long time is bad for your health.

Top tips on dealing with stress:

My name is… Say hello to the things that are stressing you out. Write them down, crossing out anything that’s unlikely to happen.

  • A problem shared… Have a rant, have a cry, thump a cushion. Message a friend or talk to an adult you trust.
  • Go slow… Take a walk in the park, load a playlist, or pick up a book.
  • Make a list… List the top 5 most important things you need to do today. Tick them off as you complete each one.
  • Get breathless… You might not feel like it but exercise and sport make a big difference to your wellbeing.
  • Smile… Smiling makes other people feel better and changes our own mood too.


Getting angry is part of being human.

We all do it and, just like stress, a little bit of it can be good for us.

Anger can defend you from danger, help get an important point across, or motivate you to make a change.

Anger isn’t good if it harms you or the people around you. If you’re shouting, throwing stuff, hurting others (or yourself) then that’s harmful behaviour. Anger can contribute to mental health problems, and make existing problems worse.

Top tips on dealing with anger:

  • Look inside yourself… Knot in your stomach? Heart beating fast? Clenching your jaw? Knowing the early warning signs of anger means you can do something about it.
  • Walk away… Take yourself out of the situation you are in and walk away.
  • Distract yourself… Calming music, exercise, or doodling are all good ways to distract yourself from your thoughts. You could even try a cold shower!
  • Safe energy… Don’t damage your things, hurt yourself or others. Get rid of some energy by thumping a pillow instead, or tearing up a magazine.
  • Anywhere but here… Where is your happy place? What do you like about it? Close your eyes and imagine you’re there.


We all have times when our mood is low and we’re feeling sad or miserable. Usually these feelings pass after a short time.

If a low mood lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life, then it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling numb or worthless
  • Frequently irritable and annoyed
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, guilt, anger or hopelessness
  • Becoming more self-critical
  • Blaming yourself for everything.

If you think you’re experiencing depression then it’s important to talk to a trusted adult.

Managing Depression:

  • Make a gratitude jar… Write down the things that make you happy and place them in the jar ready to read whenever you’re feeling low.
  • Other things you can do… Regular sleep, exercise and keeping to a healthy diet can help you feel more in control and more able to cope.
  • Self-help books can be really helpful too. You could borrow Am I Depressed? by Shirley Reynolds and Monika Parkinson from your local library.

When to seek help immediately

If you feel like your life isn’t worth living, or that you want to harm yourself, ask for help straight away. Organisations like Childline and the Samaritans are there to help you, not judge.

Call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.


Things like exams, leaving school, job interviews or even changes at home can make you feel anxious. It’s a normal biological reaction.

Signs of anxiety include feeling fearful, finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions, being restless or edgy, or even going to the loo a lot.

You might even find it hard to sleep, eat or concentrate for a little while, but the worries should stop.

For some people, anxiety doesn’t go away so easily. They might experience panic attacks or feel that they’re worrying all the time about everything.

Talk to a trusted adult who can help you to get the right support if your anxiety feels overwhelming. This could be anyone, such as:

  • A parent, carer, or someone else in your family
  • A teacher or a member of staff at your school like a school nurse or school counsellor
  • A sports coach or youth worker
  • A doctor.

Managing anxiety

  • All of the above… Many of the tips on this page for dealing with anger and stress will also help you to manage your anxiety.
  • Time to talk… Talking to a trusted adult or a friend who is a good listener can really help. They might have had the same worries, or know of someone else who did.
  • Read a self-help book… Self-help books help a lot of people with their anxiety. Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley is a good one.

Sometimes it’s easier to text someone to say how you’re feeling, even if they’re in the next room!

Body image and eating problems

It can be hard to be body confident when our bodies are changing and it feels like everyone is obsessed about people’s appearance.

Swiping through Instagram shows you images that have been Photoshopped, filtered and posed. But take a look around, there’s no ‘right’ way of looking; we’re all different shapes, sizes and colours.

Sometimes worry, stress or a negative body image can result in unhealthy behaviour towards exercise or food. The following things can be a sign of a serious eating problem that could put your health at risk.

  • Over (or under) eating, or making yourself sick after a meal
  • Using laxatives or steroids that haven’t been prescribed
  • Only eating a very narrow group of foods, or being preoccupied with food or exercise.

Top tips on body image and eating right:

  • Mirror, mirror… Love and accept your body. Look in the mirror, what are the three things you like? 
  • Listen to your body… Your body wants to be exercised and nourished. Exercise for fun, not beauty, and aim for three main meals a day and three nutritious snacks.
  • The right role models… Try not to be influenced by other people skipping meals or commenting on weight. Be careful about the websites you visit and the people you follow.

If you’re worried about your eating or exercise habits, or feel that you need to keep them secret, then it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust.


Some relationships are better for us than others.

  • A healthy relationship… shows mutual respect, honesty, trust and emotional support.
  • An unhealthy relationship… doesn’t make you feel good about yourself or makes you unhappy.
  • An abusive relationship… Might involve physical, emotional or sexual abuse – it can happen online, on your phone or in person.

Abusive relationships can make you feel controlled, violated, or forced to do something you don’t want to do.

Bullying, stalking and sexting are all abusive.

Top tips on relationships:

  • Other people’s reactions are not about us, they are about them. Aim to be the best you can be in your relationships by being honest, inclusive and open.
  • It’s healthy to have time apart from your boyfriend or girlfriend. Spend time with your family and friends too.
  • Just because you’re 16 doesn’t mean that you have to have (or should expect) sex. Never send, share, or ask for naked selfies. Visit Think U Know to find out why.
  • Sometimes breaking up is right. Losing someone who doesn’t respect or appreciate you is a gain, not a loss.

Being in a relationship can be really exciting, but it can also be confusing. For further advice see Childline’s advice on relationships.

In an abusive relationship?

Abusive or controlling relationships are never ok. Call Childline in confidence for advice at any time on 0800 1111.


We all feel lonely sometimes and you don’t need to be physically alone to experience loneliness. Sometimes you can feel alone and as though nobody understands what you’re going through, even when you’re surrounded by other people. You can feel lonely if you:

  • Find it hard to make friends
  • Have moved schools and have started somewhere new
  • Have been abused or bullied
  • Have lost someone close to you
  • Don’t get on with your family or live in care
  • Have an illness or disability
  • Have an eating problem or are depressed
  • Have ended a relationship

If you are feeling lonely, there is a lot you can do, including talking to your family or teachers.

Top tips on tackling loneliness:

Making friends isn’t always easy, here are some tips to help…

  • Look out for people with things in common with you, such as similar hobbies and interests.
  • Join a club, activity or volunteer, this could be inside or outside school and online.
  • Find things to share, like sweets, a new game or even a song or video that you like.
  • When you talk to someone make sure you are using positive body language, for example smile, look people in the eye and try to speak clearly.

Are you being bullied?

No one has the right to bully you. Try to ignore the bully and report the incident to a trusted adult. You can call Childline for advice at any time on 0800 1111.

Starting a new school?

Going to a new school can be scary, but it can also be an exciting new start. There are things you can do to help you cope and feel positive. Find out more on Childline’s advice for moving schools.

Lost someone close to you?

The death of someone you care about, or even of a pet, can be very difficult. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences loss or bereavement differently. However you’re feeling is ok – cry if you feel like it.

Feeling upset, scared or worried is normal, but it’s also alright if you don’t feel those things. You might find your emotions very tough to deal with. Childline’s website can help with ways to cope when someone dies.

Sources of support in Portsmouth

School and college support

All schools and colleges have staff who can support your emotional wellbeing, talk to whoever you feel comfortable with and help you get the support you need. You school might even have a Mental Health Support Team (MHST) who can help you with the difficulties you are experiencing. You or your parent can speak with your school about making a referral to MHST.


Kooth is a free online counselling and wellbeing support service, which is available to all young people aged 11-25 in Portsmouth.

You can find advice and guidance, including advice from other young people who have experienced similar things. You can also speak to a counsellor via instant messaging. You don’t need a referral, you can just visit Kooth.com and register anonymously.

The site is available 24/7, with counselling available 12pm – 10pm on weekdays and 6pm – 10pm on weekends.

Hampshire Youth Access counselling service (HYA)

Hampshire Youth Access (HYA) offer counselling, mental health and emotional wellbeing support to young people aged 5-17 (or up to age 24 for care leavers or those with SEND).

Sessions will be delivered by No Limits in schools, in the community and, for older children, the sessions may be online via Zoom.

If you’re aged between 5 and 10, you will need a referral from a GP: the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS); or through the Mental Health Support Teams who work in Portsmouth schools.

If you’re aged between 11 to 17 (or up to 24 for those with SEND/care leavers), you can refer yourself, or you can be referred by your parent/carer or any professional.

Refer by:

Calling: 023 8214 7755

Emailing: enquiries@hampshireyouthaccess.org.uk

Visiting: Hampshire Youth Access’ website.

Talking Change

Talking Change provides a range of therapies and treatments for those aged 16 and over dealing with common mental health difficulties. These can be in a 1-2-1 or group settings. You can refer yourself.

You can call Talking Change on 0300 123 39 34. They’re available Monday to Thursday 8am – 8pm, Friday 8am – 5pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm.

Find out more on the Talking Change website.

Listening Ear

Listening Ear offers a specialist counselling service for children and young people who have lost someone by suicide. Any parent, guardian or professional can refer you by visiting the Listening Ear website.

In a crisis or emergency

If you have urgent concerns about a mental health problem, use the NHS 111 online service at 111.nhs.uk or call 111. If you’ve injured yourself, taken an overdose or are in an emergency and believe that your life is at risk, please dial 999 or go to the nearest emergency department.