A new book by Adam Carpenter, Let’s Talk, provides tips and tools to get boys talking about their mental health.
One in every six children has a probable mental health disorder and boys are more susceptible
to emotional disorders than girls in the 11-plus age group. If that figure wasn’t alarming enough, despite the leaps and bounds in de-stigmatising mental health, boys are still slow to open up or discuss how they are feeling. Adam Carpenter, with the guidance of Mayvrill Freeston-Roberts, a BACP Accredited and Registered Counsellor and Psychotherapist, has written Let’s Talk to equip young people with the knowledge that they are not alone and that help is available whenever they need it.
Let’s Talk will provide boys with the tools they need to get them talking about how they feel
– something that is recognized by doctors and therapists as one of the key components to
maintaining good mental health. Within the guide they can find activities to figure out what help they might need, advice on where to get it, and case studies to show how others have voiced their feelings and found help.
We’re lucky to share an extract from one of the chapters focussed on anxiety.
In terms of anxiety being a mental health issue, you are suffering from an anxiety disorder if these feelings of worry, nervousness or unease are ongoing, intense and out of control. So those nerves stop you from being able to move or do very much on the football pitch, or your worry and unease about bulls in fields make you feel panicked every time you have to walk through any field.
Early warning signs of suffering from anxiety include dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and sleeplessness. It is important to take notice of these and address your anxiety with the help of a parent, teacher or friend who you trust. Otherwise, long-term effects of anxiety include withdrawing from family and friends, feeling unable to go to school and other places in a bid to avoid your fears. The more you avoid your fears, the worse they will get.
Four Super-quick Ways to Help Manage Anxiety
Take slow, deep breaths – this will relax your phrenic nerve that runs from your diaphragm to the brain and send a message to the entire body to loosen up.
Do ten push-ups – it sounds mad but any exercise sends oxygen to every cell in your body so your brain and body operate at their very best. Go for a run or a kick about in the garden or school playground if you have time.
Think of a favourite memory – Anything that will make you smile and focus on something good in your world is great ammunition against your sources of worry. Failing an exam really isn’t the end of the world – just do your best.
Focus on one of your senses – find a soothing smell or a calming sound outside, close your eyes and focus on it for a few minutes. It might sound silly but it will help lower your heart rate and stop your mind from getting in a twist about whatever it is making you anxious and instead make you feel better equipped to cope with it.
A form of depression where the sufferer goes from extreme highs of happiness to periods of feeling extremely low. One moment they could be full of energy and enthusiasm, the next they could be having feelings of emptiness, guilt or despair.
During a manic episode, a person will be more active than usual and say that they are extremely happy or high on life. They may also be quite impulsive during these periods.
During a depressive episode, they will be less active than usual and show little or no interest in things that normally excite them. Between these stages, the person will return to their typical mood.
Generally, bipolar disorder develops in your late teens or young adulthood but cases in younger people are not uncommon. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but people can manage the condition with a range of treatments, including therapy and medication.
Perhaps one of the most misused statements in the world is “I’m depressed” when really the person means “I’m sad”. Sadness may feel overwhelming but through it, there will be moments where you are able to laugh and be comforted.
Depression, on the other hand, is a longer term mental illness. Sufferers will be unable to find enjoyment in anything, including activities and the company of people they used to enjoy. This doesn’t mean they are constantly miserable as they will have coping mechanisms to cover up their condition. But all too often they will be unable to bring themselves out of their depressive state.
Other symptoms of depression include extremities such as eating too much or too little, sleeping too much or too little, extreme feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Depression in young people is by no means rare and it is likely that one or more of a range of outside forces causes it, from a trauma early in life to a family history of mental illness or lack of family or community acceptance about one’s sexuality.