Mental health is a way of describing social and emotional wellbeing.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” (https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health)
Good mental health is central to a teenager’s healthy development. It is associated with:
- Feeling happy and positive about yourself and enjoying life
- Healthy relationships with family and friends
- Participation in physical activity and eating a healthy diet
- The ability to relax and to get a good night’s sleep
- Community participation and belonging
We need good mental health to build strong relationships, adapt to change and deal with life’s challenges.
Mental Health Foundation recommend their Top Ten Tips for looking after your mental health
Sometimes individuals with poor mental health may present as:
- Seeming down, feeling things are hopeless, being tearful or lacking motivation
- Having trouble coping with everyday activities
- Showing sudden changes in behaviour, often for no obvious reason
- Having trouble eating or sleeping
- Dropping school performance, or suddenly refusing to go to school
- Avoiding friends or social contact
- Making comments about physical pain (for example, headache, tummy ache or backache)
- Being aggressive or antisocial – for example, missing school or stealing
- Being very anxious about weight or physical appearance, weight loss, or failing to gain weight like others of a similar age
Additional information can be found at Mental Health and Autism from the National Autistic Society.
Sarah Hendrickx, “Autism: how anxiety affects everything”
Dr Fiona McCaffrey, “Autism and Managing Anxiety”
Dr Fiona McCaffrey and Dr Rachel Ferguson,“Reducing anxiety in autistic children and young people”
Dr Brenda Smith Myles, “Well Being and Being Well.”
Frances O’Neill, “Autism, Strategies to help with anxiety.”
McCaffrey, F. and Ferguson, R., 2018. Parent training as a means of reducing anxiety in autistic children. Autism Network, 1, pp.14-19.
McCaffrey, F. (2021). Anxiety and Autism: A Brief Review of Research and Autobiographical Literature . REACH: Journal of Inclusive Education in Ireland, 27(2), 113–121.
If you’re concerned, talk to your GP, who can put you in contact with an appropriate professional.