Your journey to mental well-being start here. This information was originally developed by Southwark CAMHS and adapted by Amie Dre, Undergraduate Placement Student, for use by Sutton CAMHS.

Welcome!

We understand that protecting your mental well-being before receiving help from CAMHS can be difficult. We hope that the information and tools listed here can be helpful for you in the meantime and in-between appointments. 

Getting started. 

CAMHS helps young people with a range of difficulties like low mood, anxiety, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, and more. 

What to expect next. 

You will be given information about your first appointment in due course. Before receiving support from CAMHS, you should turn to your personal support network to seek help in the meantime. 

Top tips to improve your mental well-being before visiting CAMHS.

This pack has been developed with some tips and advice that you can begin working on now. We hope this will be helpful both now and whilst on your journey with CAMHS to better mental well-being. 

If you feel your difficulties are becoming increasingly worse before starting treatment with us, please let us know. 

First Steps: Taking care of yourself. Getting a good night's sleep. 

  • Get regular. Train your body by setting a regular rhythm - try to sleep and wake at the same time everyday. 
  • Try and sleep when you're tired. Avoid spending too much time awake in bed - get into bed when you're ready to try and sleep. 
  • Get up and try again. If you've been trying to sleep for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something calming until you feel sleepy, then return and try again. 
  • bed is for sleeping. Don't use your bed for anything other than sleeping. 
  • No naps. 
  • Sleep routine. Develop your own 'wind down' routine (e.g. a book, shower or relaxation before bed). 
  • Bath time. Try having a hot bath one or two hours before bedtime. 
  • No clock-watching. 
  • Regular exercise. Just not before bed time!
  • The right space. Aim for a quiet, cool, dark and comfortable bedroom. Try an eye mask or earplugs to help. 
  • Avoid caffeine. For at least four to six hours before bed. 
  • No screen time. Avoid for one hour before bed. 

For more information, visit The Centre for Clinical Intervention and search 'sleep' (external link). 

First Steps: Taking care of yourself. Eat well. 

  • Aim for regular meals. Aim for three main meals, and three snacks per day. 
  • Aim for variety for a balanced diet. Aim for colour on your plate - vegetables, fruit, grains, pasta, rice!
  • Don't skip breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day! Think of some different ideas for breakfasts you could try (toast, cereal, pastries, fruit, cooked breakfast). 
  • Hydrate. Aim to drink 1.5 litres of water a day. 
  • Avoid extreme or fad diets. usually these aren't healthy or helpful for our wellbeing - think about a variety of foods and a balanced diet instead. 

For more information, visit the NHS website and search for 'eat well' (external link). 

Get active

Think of some active things you enjoy and try to do something everyday! This could be cycling, dog walking or anything where you break a sweat - try something with friends!

Research suggests that there are overwhelming benefits to physical activity - for example, improving mental health, self-esteem and quality of life. Parket (2016) found that depression symptoms reduced significantly in adolescents taking part in physical activity. 

Spend time in nature. 

Try introducing some exercise slowly and see the benefits!

Spending time in nature can also be very beneficial. There is lots of evidence to show the benefits of spending time in nature - it has been shown to improve emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, stress and depression (among other things!)  (Roberts, 2019).

Why not try going for some walks or spend time with friends outdoors. 

Reduce social media use. 

Have a think about your daily use and set a goal to limit it! Social media has some benefits and can help you stay connected to others, but using it too much can have a negative impact on your mental health. 

Research found risk of depression jumps by a quarter when using social media for three hours, or more, a day. 

For more information, visit The Mix website and search for 'social media' (external link). 

Dealing with depression

How to lift your mood

Everyone gets upset or down sometimes - it's normal. If these feelings become frequent, intense or are getting in the way of things (school, spending time with friends/family) it could be a sign that you are struggling with depression. 

We know that it can be exhausting but there are a few things you can do to try to help your symptoms and not let it control your life. 

Sometimes the less you feel like doing something, the more important it is to do it. You can try increasing some mood-elevating activities gradually over time. We've put together some examples of activities - have a think of what can improve your mood!

Is there any of these activities you could do more of?

  • Spend time with friends if you can 
  • Exercise
  • Go out with your family
  • Visit someone that makes you smile
  • Watch your favourite series
  • Read a book.

Looking after yourself mentally and physically

  • Take care of your appearance and hygiene
  • Try to eat and sleep well
  • Treat yourself in some way everyday
  • Think about one thing you're grateful for and write it down in a journal
  • Make a list of your strengths - all the things you're good at and what others like about you
  • Start a diary of your thoughts and feelings.   

Ask for help

  • Friends and family
  • Teachers, school councillors, 
  • Your GP

Set yourself a daily schedule

  • Routine is important - think about your day-to-day life and create a daily schedule
  • Include daily goals that are realistic - such as 'have a shower', 'go for a walk', 'have three main meals.'
  • Try and wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday

For more information, visit The Centre for Clinical Interventions and search for 'depression' (external link).