Sometimes our lifestyle can add unforeseen pressure and uncertainty to our lives and this isn't always easy to deal with.
You can get advice, help and support to help you if you identify with these lifestyles:
- children and young people
- university students
- rural communities
Children and young people
Evidence shows that children and young people in particular may turn to self-harm when struggling with life pressures. There could be many reasons why they may try to hurt themselves but it's often a way for them to release overwhelming emotions and a way of coping
Self-harm can become a compulsion and has been linked to or can be a result of:
- depression and bullying
- being under pressure at school
- emotional abuse
- grief and difficulties with relationships
- low self-esteem
- lack of control over their lives
Often, the physical pain of self-harm might feel easier to deal with than the emotional pain that's behind it. It can make a young person feel they're in control of something in their lives. Sometimes it can also be a way for them to punish themselves for something they've done or have been accused of doing.
If a person has been self-harming they'll go to great lengths to cover up any scars or injuries. Young people may even keep themselves covered up in long-sleeved clothes even in hot weather.
If you think someone has been hurting themselves look out for physical signs to their head, wrists, arms, thighs or chest such as:
- cuts or scratches
- bald patches from pulling out hair
The emotional signs can be harder to spot and don't necessarily mean that a young person is self-harming. But if you see any of these as well as any of the physical signs then there may be cause for concern.
- depression, tearfulness and low motivation
- becoming withdrawn and isolated (e.g. wanting to be alone in their bedroom for long periods)
- unusual eating habits leading to sudden weight loss or gain
- low self-esteem and self-blame
- drinking or taking drugs
Young minds provide a useful guide on self-harm and getting the help you need
Depression and anxiety
Children and young people can find it especially difficult to express their feelings and open up to others. If they're suffering from depression they may feel like there is no hope and find it difficult to imagine ever being happy again. Or, if they're highly anxious they may be even more worried about talking to someone about how they feel.
Mental health problems provides more information and support.
Emotional health problems
All children are different but some of the common signs of mental health problems in children include:
- becoming withdrawn from friends and family
- persistent low mood and unhappiness
- tearfulness and irritability
- worries that stop them from doing day to day things
- sudden feelings of anger
- loss of interest
- problems eating or sleeping
Help and support
If you or someone you know needs some advice and support you can contact:
- Childline is a charity dedicated to supporting children and young people under the age of 19 in the UK with any issue they are facing
- Health for Teens which has lots of information about all areas of health including emotional health and well being
- Kooth is free, safe and anonymous online support for young people
- Young Minds aim to make sure young people get the mental health support they need. You can get information about self-harm and mental health.
- Samaritans step by step guide (PDF, 5.8 Mb)
For teachers in schools and colleges, this guide will help you prepare for and respond to a suspected suicide in schools and colleges.
The impact of student life when studying at university or college is likely to bring a number of changes to your life. While these should be enjoyable they might also be challenging and can have an impact on your mental wellbeing and health. Challenges might include:
- developing new, and maintaining old, relationships
- anxieties about work
- managing finances
- coping with homesickness
- balancing study with other commitments
- finding a place to live
Depression and anxiety
It's normal to feel down, anxious or stressed from time to time, but if these feelings affect your daily activities, including your studies, or don't go away after a couple of weeks you should get help.
Signs of depression and anxiety include:
- feeling low
- feeling more anxious or agitated than usual
- losing interest in life
- losing motivation
Some people also:
- gain or lose weight
- stop caring about the way they look
- do too much work
- stop attending lectures
- become withdrawn
- have sleep problems
Help and support
- Talk to someone
Telling someone you trust how you feel, whether it's a friend, member of the family, tutor, counsellor or doctor, may bring an immediate sense of relief. Many mild mental health problems can be resolved this way.
- University counselling services
Local colleges and universities have a confidential in-house counselling service you can access, with professionally qualified counsellors and psychotherapists.
You can usually find out what they offer and how to make an appointment in the counselling service section of your university's website. This free service in universities is available to both undergraduates and postgraduates. You may also be entitled to 'reasonable adjustments' such as extra time in exams, extensions on coursework, and specialist mental health mentor support.
Many universities also have a mental health advisor who can help you access the support you need.
- Student-led services
Many student unions also offer student-led services. Although the students involved aren't qualified counsellors, people may prefer to talk about problems such as stress and depression with another student.
- Night line (for university students) - a student-run, listening, support and information service
- Student Minds the UK's student mental health charity have lots of resources including support for LGBTQ+, exam stress, mental wellbeing and transitions.
- NHS Self-help leaflets
- Suicide-safer universities (PDF, 7.1 Mb)
For Universities - this guide provides a framework to understand student suicide, mitigate risk, intervene when students get into difficulties, and respond to these tragic deaths. It sets out the steps you can take to make your community suicide-safer.
Loneliness is a feeling and it affects everyone differently. You can be surrounded by people every day yet still feel lonely, whereas someone else may be on their own most of the time yet not feel lonely at all. There is nothing wrong with being on your own if you enjoy your own company but for some this feeling of loneliness is not nice.
Everyone has different social needs; some people like to speak to very few people but others like to enjoy a large amount of interaction with others. There could be a number of factors in our lives that could lead us to suddenly feel alone, such as:
- the loss of a loved one (partner, child, relative, friend and even pet)
- moving to live somewhere else
- loss of a job or retirement
Help and support
If you're feeling lonely there are organisations that can help you:
- Age UK Leicester-Shire and Rutland is a local charity that helps the older community feel happier, active, fulfilled and socially-engaged
- Mind - Coping with loneliness provides you with tips that may help you
- The Silver Line provides a confidential, free helpline for those aged 55 years and over across the UK
- 0800 4 70 80 90 open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
A large part of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland is rural and evidence shows rural communities have a greater risk of mental health problems due to factors such as access to services, social exclusion and rural deprivation (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018).
Help and support
If you're part of a rural community and you feel you need some help, you can contact: