for children and young people
Here you can find useful information, tips and links on a range of topics.
Get support from a school nurse by text message
ChatHealth offers support to young people with questions relating to a wide range of health and wellbeing issues including: relationships, bullying, healthy lifestyle, anxiety, drugs, smoking, stress, body worries, alcohol, self-harm and sexual health. As well as giving advice, the school nursing can signpost to appropriate services and other support.
Messages sent to the dedicated number (07507 333351) are delivered to a secure website, and a school nurse will respond to you. The service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm, excluding bank holidays. Someone will usually get back to you within 24 hours. If you contact us outside of office hours, you will receive a message explaining where to get help if your question is urgent, and when you can expect a response.
Although the service is confidential and you do not need to give your name, we might need to share information if we are worried for your, or someone else’s safety.
Information for children and young people:
If somebody physically hurts you, or verbally abuses you, that’s bullying.
Bullying can make you feel isolated and worthless, lonely, anxious, angry and lacking confidence. You may experience some or all of these feelings.
Ignoring bullying won’t make it go away. You need to tell someone about what is happening. You should always speak to someone, this can be a parent, carer, family member, friend, teacher, health professional or someone you trust.
Some people who are being bullied develop depression, anxiety and eating problems. They may self-harm or turn to drugs and alcohol. If you are experiencing problems like these because of bullying, it’s having an impact on your health.
Are you a smoker and want to give up? Or do you just want further information?
Stopping smoking is one of the best things that you can do and there is no better time to stop than now! Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK.
Smoking causes around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer (70%).
It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body, including the:
- voice box (larynx)
- oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach)
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as:
- coronary heart disease
- heart attack
- peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels)
- cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain)
Smoking also damages your lungs, leading to conditions such as:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which incorporates bronchitis and emphysema
Smoking can also worsen or prolong the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, or respiratory tract infections such as the common cold.
In men, smoking can cause impotence because it limits the blood supply to the penis. It can also reduce the fertility of both men and women.
- Your GP can give you information and advice on quitting smoking.
- You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044.
- There are apps that can be used to support and track the amount of days you have been smoke free. More information on the NHS Stop Smoking app here
- NHS resources and information on the effects of smoking and support to quit
Stable relationships with friends, family and partners are important as they can influence your health and well-being.
Relationships are tricky and confusing, the important part of a relationship is that both of you are happy and that you support and care for each other. A good relationship should make you feel happy with a sense of belonging, someone you trust and are able to talk to.
If your relationship is healthy, you should feel able to discuss your concerns with your partner. Sometimes you may want to talk to someone else. Hopefully you feel able to talk to a friend or family member.
In a healthy relationship someone shouldn’t try to control you. Controlling or threatening behaviour can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or psychological.
Having sex is a big decision. If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to have sex or do sexual things with someone, then you don’t have to. The person you’re with should care about you enough not to pressure you or make you do something you’re not happy about
If your boyfriend or girlfriend makes you feel scared in your relationship, it’s important to get support. Try talking to an adult you trust
You might be worried about a friend, relative or someone else. If you think they’re in an unhealthy relationship, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s happening or how to help them.
If someone is in an abusive relationship or being groomed, it can make it hard for them to know when something is wrong. Being groomed is never someone’s fault. But you might be unsure about how to help them.
Asking an adult for help and encouraging your friend to get support will help you both to stay safe.
How you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind
Body image is an area of increasing concern. Our culture is filled with messages linking individual worth with physical appearance. The growth of social media has brought celebrity culture into young people’s bedrooms, and young people report feeling increasingly besieged by sexualised and unrealistic images of beauty.
Below are some common traits of someone with body image issues:
- You want to lose weight to look/feel better about yourself
- You compare your body to other people
- You don’t like taking photos of yourself
- You talk negatively about yourself and your body
- You don’t like shopping for clothes
- Your obsessed with weighing yourself
- You put off things because you have to lose weight first
- You are unable to accept compliments or feel people are lying to you
- You have bad eating habits (skipping meals)
- You don’t like what you see in the mirror
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder related to body image. You might be given a diagnosis of BDD if you:
- Experience obsessive worries about one or more perceived flaws in your physical appearance; the flaw cannot be seen by others or appears very slight
- Develop compulsive behaviours and routines, such as excessive use of mirrors or picking your skin, to deal with the worries you have about the way you look.
Stable relationships with friends, family and partners are important as they can influence your health and well-being.
Every family is different and they are made up of people who have different needs, ideas and ways of doing things. Sometimes this means you won’t get on and there will be arguments and family problems, which is completely normal.
- Stay calm
Try and talk to your family calmly – be it your mum, dad, sister, brother, or other family member who you’re not getting on with. If you listen to what they have to say, they are more likely to listen to you too.
When you argue with your family, try to stop and talk about the problem, negotiate and try to reach a compromise rather than arguing.
- Connect with your family
Try to connect with your family, tell them something about your day, or ask them how their day was. This will start to rebuild your relationship and will make it easier to get on.
- Talk to someone else
Share your problems with someone outside of the family.
Self-Harm is term for behaviours that can cause injury or danger to yourself.
Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences. Some people have described self-harm as a way to:
- express something that is hard to put into words
- turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible
- change emotional pain into physical pain
- reduce overwhelming emotional feelings or thoughts
- have a sense of being in control
- escape traumatic memories
- have something in life that they can rely on
- punish yourself for your feelings and experiences
- stop feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated (see dissociative disorders)
- create a reason to physically care for themselves
- express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life
After self-harming you may feel a short-term sense of release, but the cause of your distress is unlikely to have gone away. Self-harm can also bring up very difficult emotions and could make you feel worse.
Even though there are always reasons underneath someone hurting themselves, it is important to know that self-harm does carry risks. Once you have started to depend on self-harm, it can take a long time to stop.
The Gloucestershire Self Harm Helpline provides a safe, supportive, non-judgmental and informative space for people who self harm, their friends, families and carers. We also speak to professionals who may want to know more about self harm. The service is able to support anyone living within Gloucestershire, and you can contact them by telephone, text or webchat during opening hours, every day 5pm to 10pm.
- Phone: 0808 801 0606
- Text: 07537 410 022
Mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.
Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.
Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
It is important that if you have concerns that you talk to someone about these concerns. This may be a parent, teacher, friend or school nurse. They will support you in getting the help needed.
Think Ninja app
The Think Ninja app has been made available for free and updated with new content during the Covid-19 outbreak. The app is designed for 10-18 year olds. Find out more and download at https://www.healios.org.uk/services/thinkninja1
Are you concerned about the role alcohol and drugs play in your life?
Recreational drugs are substances people may take:
- to give themselves a pleasurable experience
- to help them feel better if they are having a bad time
- because their friends are using them
- to see what it feels like.
They include alcohol, tobacco (nicotine), substances such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, and some prescribed medicines.
Recreational drugs may be:
- legal – such as nicotine and alcohol
- illegal – this means it is against the law to have them or supply them to other people; most recreational drugs are illegal
- controlled – these are drugs used in medicine, such as benzodiazepines; it is legal to take controlled drugs if a doctor has given you a prescription for them but it is illegal to have them if not; it is also illegal to give or sell controlled drugs to anyone else.
A number of substances previously known as ‘legal highs’ are now illegal – for example, mephedrone (‘meow meow’).
All drugs have some kind of effect on your mental health. They affect the way you see things, your mood and your behaviour.
These effects may:
- be pleasant or unpleasant
- be short-lived or longer-lasting
- be similar to those you experience as part of a mental health problem
- go away once the drug has worn off
- continue once the drug has worn off
For some people, taking drugs can lead to long-term mental health problems, such as depression or schizophrenia.
It is difficult to predict how you will react to a drug. You may react differently to the same drug at different times or in different situations.
This may differ depending on:
- the type of drug
- whether the drug has been mixed with other substances, and what these other substances are
- the amount you take
- the environment or social situation in which you take it
- how often you take it
- your previous experience of it
- what you want and expect to happen
- your mental state at the time
If you have a history of poor mental health, you may be more likely to experience negative effects with illegal drugs.
If you have previously had no mental health problems, you may still develop symptoms of a mental health problem from using these drugs.
If you use drugs a lot, or become dependent on them, this can have a negative impact on your day-to-day life. For example, it could lead to problems with:
- education and employment
- low self-esteem
- finding it hard to maintain commitments, including appointments related to your drug use or mental health
- crime – either in possessing an illegal substance or to finance a habit, leading to a criminal record
Websites and Apps that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health and our wellbeing.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health
School nurses and the Health and wellbeing teams can offer advice on healthy eating and support you if you are concerned about your diet, eating patterns and your weight. We need a balance of different types of food – across the five food groups – to keep us healthy.
The Five Food Groups
These are pasta, grains, bread, potatoes and some pulses
Although too much fat is bad for us, some fats are important to a healthy diet. Plant fats such as peanut butter, avocado and coconut are lower in cholesterol and considered better for us than animal fats from meat or dairy.
Protein is found in meat, fish, dairy, soya products (such as tofu), pulses and beans and to a lesser extent in some grains such as quinoa. Protein is very important for fuelling our bodies, especially for building muscle and many people who exercise regularly try to add more protein to their diet.
4. Dairy and dairy alternatives
Dairy foods are eggs, milk and milk products (yoghurt, cheese, etc.) and are excellent sources of calcium and protein.
5. Fruits and vegetables
It’s almost impossible to eat too many fruits and vegetables – not only should you be aiming for five portions a day but some advice suggests it should be more like seven. Fruits and vegetables are essential for our digestion, vitamins and for a rich and varied diet.
Feeling pressure around exam time and need support?
Exam stress can start when you feel you can’t cope with revision, or feel pressure from your school or family. You might worry you’re going to fail or you won’t get the grades you need for the course or job you want. Working towards exams can creating feelings of worry and being under pressure. However there are a range of things that you can do to help deal with the stress that you might be feeling. School nurses have advice and tips on coping during this time.
This may include things like relaxation and mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about learning to focus on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting anxious feelings, thoughts, and physical reactions.
Relaxation training can be used alongside a process of systematic desensitisation – this is where a person visualises a scene while completely relaxed, and the mental image evokes some of the feelings of the real scene.
The idea is that if you learn to relax while visualising yourself taking the exam, you can also learn to be relaxed while actually taking the exam.
There are other steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Learn more about the five steps for mental wellbeing.
Bedwetting, daytime wetting or soiling are a common children issue
Bedwetting, daytime wetting or soiling (doing a poo somewhere other than the toilet) are sometimes called continence problems, and they are common in childhood. It is estimated that 1 in 12 children in the UK between the ages of 5 and 16 experience these problems. If you have concerns about wetting or soiling you can speak to your school nurse
The school nurse team offers clinics across Gloucestershire to support children from the age of five who suffer from bedwetting (also known as ‘enuresis’). The clinics are run by nurses with an expertise in supporting young people and their families to address the causes of enuresis.
In order to be referred to the clinic, please complete an online referral here.
You will be asked to complete an assessment before you are seen in the continence clinic.
There are several reasons why children and young people may still wet the bed after the age of five.
- Some children may just be slow developers or are not yet able to wake themselves up when their bladders are full.
- Children are more likely to wet their bed if they are very tired and sleeping deeply. Some children, who are normally dry, may wet their bed when this happens or when unwell.
- Bedwetting is more likely to happen when children drink a lot before they go to bed. Their bladder may not be able to hold all the urine that is produced and empty without them waking up.
- For some children, where they have been dry for a period of time, bedwetting can be a sign of emotional distress. They may be experiencing anxiety or stress, or it may be a reaction to major changes in their life (such as when a new baby arrives in the family or when they start school).
- Bedwetting may also be caused by constipation, urinary tract infection (UTI) or lack of a hormone called ‘vasopressin’.
Children are more likely to experience bedwetting if one or both of their parents had wet the bed as children too.
- Advice is available from ERIC: The Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity.