Blog | Advice for young people from Dr Elaine Lockhart

1st July 2020

As Scotland takes further steps out of lockdown, Dr Elaine Lockhart Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Faculty follows up on her first guest blog with advice for young people in these changing times.

It has been a tough time for young people over the past few months, being confined to their homes, not being able to socialise and be educated as normal. I hope that for many, this has also been a happy family time with everyone having more time to be together.

As lockdown is being eased, it is completely understandable that you might find it a bit frightening to go out and about into public places, especially if they are busy. This might make you feel panicky in your thinking and in your body. The best way to deal with these feelings is to follow the advice you will have heard and seen about how to keep you and others safe.

Coronavirus has disrupted all aspects of our lives, but especially young people's education. Most of you will have work and assessments sent from your schools or college. It can be hard to do this in a busy house and your teachers will be able to offer you more support when you see them after the summer.

It is really important that you get some help if you are struggling with your mental health right now and there are different services and supports available. In the first instance it could help to speak to an adult you trust who can offer a listening ear and then discuss with you if you need more help.

There are helpful websites like the new Young Scot resource "Aye Feel" and Help by text message crisis support service, Shout. Phone lines like Childline, the NHS 24 Mental Health hub and the web chat support via Breathing Space.

Coronavirus has brought lots of challenges into our lives which may have already been difficult. We know that many young women will feel overwhelmed and depressed and may even harm themselves as a way to cope. Young men will also struggle with their mental health but are less likely to ask for help and tend to use alcohol or drugs or show it through their behaviour. They can end up getting into trouble with their families, schools and the Police which only adds to their problems.

It is a sad fact that young men are more likely to end their lives and often those around them had no idea how desperate they were feeling. If you are a young man who is feeling down or anxious, please talk to someone about it.

Even if you feel like you can't cope today, with help you will be able to overcome this and you will be stronger for it.

Finally, many young people have more time on their hands than usual, which can be difficult to deal with. Helping other people who might have to stay in their houses or are feeling fed up is an ideal way to feel useful and valued. One of my favourite quotes from A.A. Milne is “Piglet was so excited about being useful, that he forgot to be frightened any more”. We could all learn from this.