Cool > ‘Exposure Asks’ young people in Barnet about mental health

Posted on May 8, 2017

Exposure asks young people at The Compton School about the importance of maintaining a healthy mind

More people are talking about mental health, than ever before, but it still causes many misunderstandings.

Young people are especially vulnerable. Problems often start during teenage years, when it can feel difficult to ask for help.

In fact, in London alone there are more than 110,000 children aged 5-16, that’s one in 10, who suffer with significant mental ill health, according to latest figures from Public Health England.

Students from The Compton School explore this complex topic and share their perspectives on what could help young people look after their own mental health.

Scroll down and use the slider tool to see how this group responded, and to view relevant statistics and quotes they wanted to share. The images on the left show how the pupils felt, while the images on the right provide information on each issue.

There’s more to OCD than washing your hands all the time!
 by Gabriella Kyriacou & Jessica Baker

A common example of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is someone who is obsessed with washing their hands. OCD is characterised by compulsions which are repeated to reduce irrational anxiety, so in the case of hand-washing — an extreme fear of germs.

It’s not just the action that’s problematic. The sufferer might also be avoiding everyday situations that trigger their fears, such as removing bins or changing nappies. This prevents them from leading a ‘normal’ life.

OCD, which may be caused by a trauma or a big life change, is not just about behaviours. It also entails emotional and cognitive characteristics too.

Obsessive thoughts are overwhelming and frightening; OCD is often accompanied by depression.

Many people manage OCD by adopting ‘cognitive coping strategies’; for some, that might be praying or meditating.

Developing your own personal coping strategies, though, can be valuable to anyone struggling with daily pressures or stresses!

To find out more about OCD, see Help Guide’s resources.

You can visit YoungMinds for more information, help and support

Panic attacks, shortness of breath, shaking, nausea, dizzy spells…
 by Lucy Willson & Urte Sereikaite

The severity of anxiety is usually underestimated. While some think of it as an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach or the fear they feel when standing on top of a high building, severe anxiety symptoms can be much worse. In fact, they can be downright terrifying.

Panic attacks can create the feeling of a heart attack or even make you feel like you’re dying. Severe anxiety can affect your everyday life, causing loss of appetite for example, or lack of interest in sex, alongside muscle tension, headaches or insomnia. People who suffer from anxiety are prone to suffering from depression as well.

Why are we writing about such an intimidating, scary topic? Because we want to make more people aware of how intimidating, scary and also how very real anxiety can be. With 3 million people in the UK suffering from anxiety today, it may well be affecting someone around you right now.

To find out more about anxiety, check out the resources at Mind Your Head.

Schizophrenia isn’t always a life sentence
 by Olivia Lynch & Naadia Mirza

Living with someone who has schizophrenia can be incredibly challenging. I know, as I have personally witnessed its effects on my family when I was a child.

We need a much deeper understanding of schizophrenia, including more knowledge of how to handle someone suffering from the illness, and how to recognise the signs even before someone has been diagnosed.

Schizophrenia is a severe, long-term mental health condition, often described as a type of psychosis in which a person may not always be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.

At some time during their life, about One in 100 people will suffer an episode of schizophrenia. It’s not always a life sentence, about 25% of people suffering recover completely, without any further problems. This is what my family experienced, thankfully.

Though there is more awareness of schizophrenia nowadays, it doesn’t attract the same public attention (and donations) that many other illnesses do. Often the stigma around the illness, makes suffers reluctant to seek help. That really needs to change, because the earlier the condition is treated, the better the long-term outcomes.

To find out more about schizophrenia, see the NHS website or Young Minds.

Bipolar usually starts between the ages of 15 to 19
 by Sophia Yianoullou & Vivien Abazaj

Diagnoses of bipolar disorder have increased in recent years, with around 1% of adults experiencing it at some point in their lives. And yet most of us are still pretty unclear about what it actually is, and how it affects people.

First of all, bipolar disorder isn’t something you’d usually associate with teenagers, right? In fact, in the majority of cases, the illness starts among young people. It’s actually rare to be diagnosed after the age of 40.

Secondly, there are at least two types. Bipolar disorder in general is characterised by episodes of extreme highs, known as manic episodes, and extreme lows, hypomanic episodes. Both Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 involve these mood swings.

However, someone with Bipolar 1 may only have manic episodes although most, also have periods of depression, while Bipolar 2 sufferers experience episodes of severe depression, but only mild manic episodes.

If you’re affected by bipolar, whether you have it or you’re close to someone who does, know that you’re not alone. Carrie Fisher, Catherine Zeta Jones and Demi Lovato are just a few celebrities who have lived their lives to the full despite living with bipolar

There are a number of organisations who can help, such as Young Minds or Bipolar UK. Just remember, there is always someone you can turn to.

Some people aren’t just being shy or disinterested
 by Valentina Meneses & Frishta Ghaderi

Next time you meet someone who just seems shy, or you think they’re being rude, consider that they may be suffering from some degree of social phobia.

What’s the difference? Shyness is common, a sort of mild fear that makes you nervous, especially about meeting new people or speaking in front of others. Social phobia or social anxiety disorder, is a much stronger fear that stops you enjoying being with others. You might feel like people are judging you, and avoid social situations entirely. About five in a 100 people suffer from some degree of social phobia, and women are more affected.

For young people who suffer from this common anxiety disorder, it can affect decisions about their future. As clinical psychology professor Anne Marie Albano explains, “Young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities.

Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary; or they might not enter the work force at all.”

Read more about what it’s like to experience social anxiety in this Exposure article, or find out more about the issue on the NHS website.

Making sense of mental health

If you are affected by any of the issues listed above or want to share a story of your own, we’d love your feedback! Comment below, visit our Facebook page or tweet us to let us know your thoughts.

Remember: Exposure is always looking for young writers so if you feel strongly about something email

Our thanks to John Lyon’s Charity for making this project possible.




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One Response to ‘Exposure Asks’ young people in Barnet about mental health

  1. Nafeesa September 12, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    What’s best about this is the great emphasis shown on how significant it is on everyone to be aware of mental health issues whether you struggle with them yourself or not. it opens our mind that anyone around us could have an illness that is not visible by appearance so we should be cautious of what we say and how we react towards those effected.

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