mental health and wellbeing for young people

It's important to look after your mental health and wellbeing, especially if you have other health issues or additional needs.

Having additional needs can be really hard sometimes, and that can affect your mental health and make you feel bad. There are things you can do to help manage and reduce your stress, and look after your wellbeing.

It may be that your additional needs come from mental health issues in the first place. Either way, there are things you can do to look after yourself, and people that might be able to help.

What is wellbeing?
Wellbeing means how you are doing overall. Do you feel happy? Safe? Comfortable?

When we look after our wellbeing, we feel better in ourselves generally. This can help our mental health as well as our physical health.

Looking after our wellbeing means getting into good habits, and making good choices.

There are five simple things you can do to help look after your wellbeing, called the five ways to wellbeing: connect, give, be active, take notice, and keep learning.

Check out our fact sheet about the five ways to wellbeing to find out more. [pdf 535kb] It has spaces for you to record your own ideas on how to use the five ways, too.

What is mental health?
Just like with physical health, sometimes our mental health can get a little unwell, and sometimes it can get a lot unwell.

Check out this Easy Read booklet on mental health from Compass Advocacy Network and Ulster University [pdf 1mb]

When our mental health is unwell, it can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviour:


You might find yourself having upsetting thoughts that you don’t want, or find yourself thinking about the same things over and over without being able to stop.  Some people find things remind them of upsetting memories a lot, which can feel very real. Sometimes our thoughts can get very fast, or they might feel very slow.

You might find yourself thinking that someone is putting thoughts in your head, or feel like people can hear your thoughts. You might think you see or hear things that other people don’t see or hear, or start believing unusual things that you wouldn’t normally believe.

You might think about hurting yourself or killing yourself. If you do, it’s important to tell your parent carer or another trusted adult, or call a helpline and ask for help. These thoughts are scary and hard, and you shouldn’t try to deal with them on your own, especially if you think you might do any of the things you are thinking about.

If any of the things you find yourself thinking are upsetting you or causing you problems, it’s worth talking about it with a trusted adult.


You might feel sad or irritable much more than usual, or you might find yourself getting angry all the time. Sometimes our emotions can be very strong and change a lot, and sometimes we feel numb, like our feelings have been switched off. You might feel tired all the time, or confused by everything. You might find yourself feeling worried or scared a lot.

You might find yourself getting very happy for no reason, and feel on top of the world – it’s good to feel happy, of course, but if you get so happy it’s overwhelming, your thoughts get very fast, you have lots of energy, and you say or do things that you regret afterwards because you couldn’t seem to stop yourself, that can be a sign that something is wrong.

Our emotions can be a lot even when we aren’t mentally unwell, especially if we go through something upsetting like a break-up, or someone we know dies, so it can sometimes be hard to know when things are a sign of a problem. If the way you feel is causing you problems, though, it’s worth reaching out to someone who can help you figure it out.


You might find yourself sleeping a lot, or that you struggle to sleep at all. Sometimes we find we don’t want to eat much, or that we eat a lot more than usual. Some people make themselves sick, or take medicines when they don’t need them. You might find you can’t concentrate and have trouble doing homework or chores.

You might start getting into lots of arguments or fights, or doing dangerous things. Sometimes people start smoking, drinking or using drugs to try to feel better.

You might find you have lots of energy and want to move fast all the time and do lots of things, and find it hard to slow down. You might find yourself doing a lot of things that you regret later.

If you feel like the things you are doing don’t make you happy, and you can’t control them, then you should reach out for help. 

What can I do to look after myself?

Manage your stress

When we get stressed it can make our physical and mental health worse. We can get stressed by both bad things and good things. Check out our fact sheet on managing stress for some useful tips! [pdf 809kb]

5 ways to wellbeing

These are things you can do to look after your wellbeing in general. When we do these things regularly, it can make us feel happier and healthier. Check out our fact sheet on the 5 ways to wellbeing here. [pdf 535kb]

Talk to a trusted friend or family member

The most important thing you can do to look after yourself is reach out and tell someone when you feel bad.

It can be hard sometimes to talk about, and you might be worried about how people will react. Sometimes we feel ashamed, or think people won’t understand. But mental health issues are really common – about one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Talking about how you feel might be scary, but you will probably find you feel a lot better once you do.

You could try talking to a close friend, or your parent carer or another trusted adult. The charity YoungMinds has some advice on how to ask for help.

Talk to your doctor

You could make an appointment at your GP surgery and speak to your doctor. When you speak to your doctor it is confidential, which means they won’t normally tell anyone what you talked about, or that you came to see them, including your parents. They might need to tell someone if they think you or someone else is at serious risk of harm, but they should talk to you about this first.

This Easy Read NHS booklet tells you more about going to the doctor. [pdf 933kb]

The DocReady website has more information about going to the doctor, and a tool to help you prepare before your appointment.

Self-help resources

There are loads of apps, workbooks, podcasts and other self-help resources that can help you manage your wellbeing and mental health.  Some are just for young people in Brighton & Hove, but most of it is for anyone.

Who else can help me?

phoneHelplines and online chat

There are a lot of helplines offering support with mental health issues. If you are Deaf or hearing impaired, you can use the Relay UK text service, or some helplines offer support through email, text, or online chat as well.

Many of these helplines are free to call, but always check before you call. Texts are usually charged depending on your mobile phone network and plan.

  • Childline – 0800 11 11 – for under 19s. Calls are free and won’t show up on a phone bill.
  • Samaritans – 116 123 – for anyone. Open 24 hours, calls are free.
  • Sussex Mental Healthline – 0300 5000 101 – for anyone in Sussex. Open in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex overnight from 5pm to 9am during the week, and 24 hours at the weekend. Calls cost the same as calling other landline numbers (for example, numbers starting 01903 or 01273).
  • Chat Health – text 07507332473  – for students in East Sussex to chat by text about anything to with their health or wellbeing.

Some helplines offer help with specific types of issues:

  • No Panic Youth Helpline – 0330 606 1174 – for 13-20 year olds, aiming to help with anxiety, panic, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and the specific anxieties that young people experience. Open between 3pm-6pm Monday to Friday.
  • PAPYRUS prevention of young suicide – 0800 068 41 41 or text 07786 209697 – for young people up to 35 years old who are thinking about suicide. Open 10am-10pm weekdays, or 2pm-10pm on weekends. Calls are free.
  • MindOut – out-of-hours online chat service – for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and trans people in Brighton & Hove to talk about their mental health. Opening hours vary – check the website for the next session.

Mind in Brighton & Hove’s has a list of helplines. Most of these are national helplines that you can call no matter where you live.

Counselling and therapy

Sometimes it is helpful to speak to a counsellor or therapist about how you feel. There are several different ways you can get counselling or therapy:

  • Ask your doctor to refer you for free counselling.
  • If you live in Brighton & Hove you can call the NHS Brighton & Hove Wellbeing Service yourself on 0300 002 0060 (or your parent carer can call for you) or use the referral form on their website. If they feel you need more intensive support they may refer you to a specialist team. If you are under 18 this may be Specialist CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), or if you are over 18 it may be the Assessment and Treatment Service (ATS).
  • If you live in East Sussex and are 18 or over you can fill out a referral form on the NHS Health in Mind website or call 0300 00 30 130. If you are under 18, you can contact your local community mental health team – this is part of East Sussex CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).
  • You may be able to get free counselling at your school or college. There is usually someone who looks after student wellbeing or welfare that you can ask about this, or speak to a teacher you like. This is available at universities, too.
  • You can exchange free weekly emails with a counsellor through e-motion. You can use this service if you are aged 12-18 and live in East Sussex.
  • The Support and Advice service at the Youth Advice Centre offers one-to-one support with a youth caseworker to young people aged 18 to 25 who need support in multiple areas of their lives.
  • iRock runs youth drop-ins in Hastings, Eastbourne and Newhaven for young people aged 14 to 25

Support and activities

Youth Advice Centre

The Support & Advice service is a safe space where any young person aged 13-25 can talk to a worker one to one and receive the support around a wide range of topics. They also offer one-to-one mental health and wellbeing support with a youth caseworker for young people aged 18 to 25 who need support in multiple areas of their lives, not just mental health.

Voice collective

A support group for young people in Brighton & Hove who hear voices, see visions or have other unusual experiences.

Art in Mind

Art in Mind is a Brighton based community group for young people with experience of mental health issues who are passionate about raising awareness about mental health issues through art.

Discovery College

Discovery College is a place for children and young people in East Sussex to learn about emotional wellbeing and mental health. You can take short free courses in groups about a number of mental health topics.

Allsorts youth project

Allsorts offers groups, activities and one-to-one support to young people in East Sussex aged under 26 who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, trans or unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Emotional Wellbeing Team – Early Help Keywork Service  – East Sussex

This team can support young people aged 10 to 19 who are having anxiety or other emotional and mental health difficulties.  Contact the Single Point of Advice (SPOA) team on 01323 464222.

I'm in crisis. What do I do?
If you’re feeling suicidal or in crisis, you need to tell someone.

If you feel in danger right now, call 999. 

If you aren’t in danger right now but you feel very bad and like you can’t cope, you can call your doctor or 111. Or if you get support from a mental health team, you can call them.

You can call the Sussex Mental Healthlineon 0300 5000 101 – this is for anyone in Sussex. Open in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex overnight from 5pm to 9am during the week, and 24 hours at the weekend. Calls cost the same as calling other landline numbers (for example, numbers starting 01903 or 01273).

You can always call the Samaritans on 116 123, any time, 24 hours a day.

If you live in Brighton & Hove, are over 18 and feel very bad and like you’re going to harm yourself, you can call the Mental Health Rapid Response Service (MHRRS) on 0300 304 0078.

If you can, it’s also a good idea to reach out to a friend or family member. It might be scary to tell someone, but it’s very important, and the people who care about you will want to know if you feel like this.

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