What is Mental Health?

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.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behaviour could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry.

  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse

  • Family history of mental health problems

What is 'Wellbeing'?

Mental wellbeing doesn't have one set meaning. We might use it to talk about how we feel, how well we're coping with daily life or what feels possible at the moment.

Good mental wellbeing doesn't mean you're always happy or unaffected by your experiences. But poor mental wellbeing can make it more difficult to cope with daily life.

What can I do to help myself?

The best thing you can do is talk to someone (tell them how you are feeling):

  • A trusted friend

  • A parent

  • A teacher

  • Your tutor

  • Pastoral Support Worker

  • Doctor

Are you following the NHS 'Five steps to mental wellbeing'

Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

1. Connect with other people

Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing.

They can:

  • help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth

  • give you an opportunity to share positive experiences

  • provide emotional support and allow you to support others

There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:

  • if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together

  • arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while

  • try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your friends or family

  • have lunch with a friend

  • visit a friend or family member who needs support or company

  • volunteer

  • make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart

2. Be physically active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness.

Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • raising your self-esteem

  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them

  • causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

3. Learn new skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem

  • helping you to build a sense of purpose

  • helping you to connect with others

Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.

  • try learning to cook something new

  • try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills

  • work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online

  • consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing

  • try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint

4. Give to others

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • creating positive feelings and a sense of reward

  • giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth

  • helping you connect with other people

It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

Some examples of the things you could try include:

  • saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you

  • asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer

  • spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company

  • offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project

  • volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Read more about mindfulness, including steps you can take to be more mindful in your everyday life.

You are in control:


Here are 5 top tips for your bedtime routine:

1. Stick to the same bedtime

Go to bed at the same time every single night (even at the weekends!) This will train your brain to know when it’s time to sleep, and when it’s time to learn or play. It’s tempting to go to bed later at the weekends, but that means you get up later the next day, and the day after. So eventually you end up feeling really tired if you force yourself to get up early after a late night. Remember, it’s your choice what time, but being consistent is key. A good bedtime routine = a good day time routine and vice-versa.

2. Avoid electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed

We know, it’s really hard to avoid the phone, tablet, games console, laptop or TV at night time, but using screens keeps your brain awake and excited, and stops you from going to sleep quicker, which means you don’t get as much renewing deep sleep every night.

3. Keep up your personal hygiene

Brushing your teeth before bed is key for a good bedtime routine. Whether you love a sheet face mask, essential oils, or using a favourite flavour mouth wash. Simply the act of taking care of yourself like brushing your teeth can help you feel fresh and gears down your busy daytime brain, ready to help you settle in for a great sleep.

4. Create a calm space

Make your bedroom as cosy and calm as possible. Experiment with dens, cushions, lighting and decoration. Even if you share with brothers or sisters you can make your bed a safe and comfy place, that makes you look forward to settling in for the night.

5. Read or reflect

Reading is a great way to feed your imagination, ready for dreams. Anything counts, as long as it’s not on your phone or laptop whether you like to read books, magazines, or comics and graphic novels. Alternatively you could write about your day in a special journal, or make up your own stories. It’s important to have time for reflection, you can do this by sharing and telling stories to your family or your siblings if you share a room together.

Advice from Dr George Kitsaras (CPscyhol), University of Manchester.

Healthy Eating

Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.

Improving your diet may help to:

  • improve your mood

  • give you more energy

  • help you think more clearly.


Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirit and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.


Mental health benefits of reading:

Reading is pleasurable

When you start to read a really good book it is often hard to put it down, the story captivates you and time disappears as you become absorbed. When you reach the end, you feel sad because it is over, or you are so eager to get the next book in the series you are emailing the author daily! It is a magical feeling and choosing to read a book can provide a number of other benefits.

Reading can reduce stress

Losing yourself in a good book has been shown to reduce your levels of stress. Research by Dr David Lewis showed that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60% by reducing your heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind. That same study showed that reading was better at reducing stress than music, drinking a cup of tea, going for a walk and playing video games.

Reading can provide an escape from the 'real world'

Closely linked to reducing stress levels when you read is the ability to escape from the real world. Research has shown that escapism is more complex than just reading for light-hearted entertainment, but it did show that people found the process transformative changing the way people interact with the world and others.

Reading helps you develop empathy for others

People who read fiction have been shown to improve your level of empathy, the ability for you to understand someone else’s belief’s, feelings and thoughts. Known as the theory of mind. Research has shown that people exposed to fiction predicted the results of an empathy task and even positively correlated with social support (but remember correlation does not mean causation!). Further research into the impact of fiction on empathy showed that it was temporarily enhanced after reading fiction.

Reading works your brain and prevents memory loss

Participating in cognitive activities, such as reading over your life time (both early and later in life) was shown to slow down memory loss when compared to those who didn’t participate in mentally stimulating activities.

Reading groups help to treat mental health issues

There is something called bibliotherapy and it has a profound effect on people suffering with depression. Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute examined a two weekly reading group program for people diagnosed with depression over a 12-month period and reported a significant improvement to mental health. Participants reported improved concentration, better emotional understanding, increased self-awareness, and the ability to discuss meaningful issues related to self and being.

Reading helps teenagers develop insights into being an adult

Research has shown that reading for pleasure in teenagers has three key benefits, reading was shown to enhance academic performance, social engagement and personal development. Fiction helped teens by providing significant insights into mature relationships, personal values and cultural identity all of which are important in the transition from being a child to becoming an adult.


2022 Mental Health Wellness Secondary Booklist .pdf
2022 Mental Health Wellness Secondary Booklist .pdf
SLS Booklist Relax And Read 2022 - printable version for schools.pdf


Mental health apps are tools that can be accessed via your smartphone or mobile device that focus on improving different aspects of mental health and well-being.

MindShift app is based on to help young adults cope with anxiety, by acting as a portable coach that guides users through challenging situations. Designed in collaboration with Anxiety Canada, this app teaches users how to relax and helps them identify active steps to directly face and take charge of their anxiety.

Headspace: Guided Meditations and Mindfulness takes a calm, relaxed approach to bringing calm relaxation into the lives of adults and kids. Headspace app, aims to keep children “calm and focused” through short meditation exercises.

Smiling Mind is designed to help people pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. This app has a fantastic section on Mindfulness in the Classroom. An especially good choice for the younger users out there, as it was created specifically with students in mind.

Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit with your schedule.

Anxiety, fear, and stress can lead to sleeplessness. Tiredness can amplify negative emotions. A vicious circle can form. If your child is a nighttime worrier kept from sleep by an unquiet mind, consider Children's Bedtime Meditations for Sleep & Calm.

What do you get when a game developer works with an occupational therapist? Zones of Regulation, it seems. The game developer's sense of style and fun engage children with this app while the occupational therapist's influence guides children towards better control of their emotions.

Pod Casts:

Mental Health and Movement

Raising low Self Esteem

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.

When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life's ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.

Developing Resilience:

All children are capable of working through challenges and coping with stress. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. It’s not something that children either have or don’t have; it’s a skill that kids develop as they grow.

Resilient children are more likely to take healthy risks because they don’t fear falling short of expectations. They are curious, brave, and trusting of their instincts. They know their limits and they push themselves to step outside of their comfort zones. This helps them reach for their long-term goals and it helps them solve problems independently.

You are never alone - there is always someone to listen