How to be healthy inside and out: children’s mental health week 2019

CMHW main web imageWe’re supporting children’s mental health week 2019 (4 to 10 February), run by national charity Place 2B.

This year’s theme is ‘healthy: inside and out’ and the aim is to encourage children, young people (and adults) to look after their bodies and their minds.

When we think about healthy living, we tend to focus on looking after our bodies – through food, being active and getting enough sleep.

However, in order to be healthy overall, it’s important that we look after our minds too. Our bodies and minds are actually very closely linked, so things that we do to improve our physical wellbeing can help our mental wellbeing as well.

Many children have a diagnosed mental health conditions and many more experience lots of challenges - from bullying to bereavement.

Taking steps to be ‘healthy: inside and out’ can help us to feel better in ourselves, focus on what we want to do and deal with difficult times.

Top tips for your mind and body

During the week, we’ll be sharing top tips on this page and via social media to look after your mind and body. 

You can follow us on Twitter @PennineCare NHS or find us on Facebook by searching Pennine Care NHS FT.

Get more exercise:

Exercise is a great way to look after your body and mind. Here are some top tips from Laura Langhorn, one of our emotional wellbeing practitioners in Oldham:

  • Find something you enjoy 
  • Be practical – think about your ability, the cost of any equipment, time to travel to the activity etc
  • Start off slowly and build up
  • Make time for it - it’s too easy to put it off
  • Friends can be a good support if you feel anxious and exercise can be a good social activity
  • Get outdoors - research suggests that doing physical activity outside has a greater positive effect than exercising indoors

Here are some really great national resources:

Sleep top tips:

Sleep is an important way to look after your body and mind.

One of our senior clinical psychologists, Dr Sam Hartley advises: “Sleep is so important and it’s normal for young people to sleep for longer than other age groups.

"It’s really important to have a good sleep routine as it can affect many things, including mood.

“My top tip (for both children and adults) would be to only use the bed for sleep, not resting, reading or watching TV. Use a chair or another room for that.

“This makes sure there is a strong link between bed and sleep. It tells’ your brain that when you’re in bed, it should start winding down.

“Waking up at a regular time each day can help too."

Here is lots more advice about the importance of sleep and what to do if you're struggling:

Eat well:

Research suggests that what we eat may affect not just our physical health, but also our mental health and wellbeing.

Eating well (a well-balanced diet with lots of vegetables and nutrients) may help to improve your feelings of wellbeing.

One 2014 study found high levels of wellbeing were reported by people who ate more fruit and vegetables.

Another recent study found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among those who took part - and the positive effects were still felt six months later.

There is lots of evidence to support the importance of good nutrition at an early age.  A review found that a poor diet (with high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and processed food products) is linked to poorer mental health in children and young people. 

You can read more about this on the Mental Health Foundation website.

Here are some top tips to make sure you are eating a healthy and balanced diet:

Worried?  

If you are a young person who is worried you might have an eating disorder (e.g. anorexia or bulimia), or you are worried about another young person, we offer dedicated community eating disorder services. 

If you are aged 16 to 18, you can self-refer.  If you are under 16, please speak to your GP.  Please click here for further details.

Lots of advice and support is also available from national charities Beat, or Young Minds.

If you are an adult and you are worried about having an eating disorder, please speak to your GP.

General advice and tips resources:

Place 2Be has lots of advice and fantastic resources about how to look after your mind and body.  This includes:

Check out their website for lots more tips and advice.

Need more help?

If you find making simple changes aren’t helping, some of our services might be able to help.

Click here to find out more about our children’s mental health services.

Click here to find out more about our adult mental health services.

You can also make an appointment with your GP.

If you need help urgent mental health support, you should go to your nearest accident and emergency department.