Ways to look after our mental health

The state of our mental health isn’t fixed. It can be good or it can be poor, it’s important to know ways to look after it and encourage these activities within the family. Here are some things anyone can try to help look after their wellbeing.

Youth Mental Health Getting SupportExercise

This helps increase energy levels, use up excess energy and improves sleep. It also helps manage stress and anger and has a number of social benefits for young people. Encouraging regular exercise in the family can help start good patterns.


Having a balanced diet can help with energy levels, weight control and self-esteem. It’s easy to fall into bad habits, but do try and eat well as a family.


It’s very easy to overlook making time for yourself with the hectic pace of life we all lead. But it’s essential for your mental health to find ways to take time out and relax. We all have different things we find relaxing; what we do doesn’t matter as much as actually doing it.


This is crucial to our physical and mental health. It re-energises us, helps our bodies to heal and keeps our memory working properly. There are many things you can do to improve your quality of sleep including exercise, avoiding stimulants and implementing a daily routine or bed-time.

For younger people working on good sleeping habits is crucial for their development.

Work on your self-esteem

Improving your son or daughter’s self-esteem is necessary for their a mental health. Challenging negative thinking, accepting yourself and not comparing yourself to others will help to develop your self-confidence.


Sometimes sharing things with friends and family can help us all through and tough time, by helping get some perspective.

Not only that, but staying connected and being social, anything from going to the movies or meeting people for a coffee goes a long way to looking after your mental health.

Forming positive connections with social media

After ten years of research, social media scholar and youth researcher, Danah Boyd published a book arguing against the perception that technology and social media is inherently bad for young people.

Youth Mental Health What is ReachOut.com ParentsMuch of our media focuses on the most negative aspects of social media. Cyberbullying, predators, sexualised content; yes it happens. But, that’s not all that happens and it shouldn’t cloud the overall view of new technologies.

Filling a gap

Rather than perverting the lives and minds of today’s teenagers, Boyd’s research suggests, social media fills many of the needs associated with adolescence.

For instance, developing their own identity and independence and having a space to demonstrate this is a normal and necessary part of growing up. Building friendships is one way of doing this and Facebook or Snapchat etc. simply offer a new platform.

Where’s the danger?

The freedom afforded many young people today is, Boyd says, severely limited. If true, it might be for good reason: maybe the streets aren’t as safe as they once were. But, like anyone, young people need social outlets and a means to blow-off steam.

Online presence can prevent loneliness and isolation, especially amongst people who are geographically separate, or who simply feel different to others around them.

The kids are alright

A greater threat might be of an over-protective society hindering young people’s ability to become engaged, empathetic and civic-minded.

There is hope, however. From her research, Boyd suggests many young people are naturally reaching out and engaging with one another, but through social media.


While it’s normal to be concerned, it’s important to try and understand. Educating ourselves of the sociological needs of young people and their means of meeting it can help to make it all less ominous.


Encouraging young people to empathise and be aware when someone might need support could be more useful than fearing the medium young people are using to communicate.

There is a need to make young people aware of the dangers of putting out too much personal information online. We all need to learn how to become good digital citizens in this relatively new territory. But, maybe open communication would work better than trying to micro-manage a young person’s online life?



Third-level education, finances and worry

Dealing with money on any level has the potential to make any of us break into a cold sweat.

But, the thought of financing your son or daughter’s third-level study can bring a whole new level of stress.

Blue piggy bank standing on coins and monopoly moneyThe whole process of student finances can be extremely complicated. But, there’s potentially some help out there.


In Ireland many third-level fees are paid for up to level 8  (on the National Qualification Framework). This may include level 6 and level 7 diplomas and certificates.

However, once a certain level is achieved, students must advance to avail of free fees. For instance, if someone has a level 6 diploma, they won’t get fees paid to repeat or take on new studies at the same level.

Irish universities, institutes of technology and qualifying colleges are part of the free-fee scheme. It sometimes also covers study abroad.

The scheme comes with conditions though and is only available for people who don’t already have a degree.


There are bursaries available to help eligible students with registration and living costs.

Whether an applicant is eligible or not will depend on a number of things including their parents’/guardians’ income (if the applicant is under 23 years-old on 1 January of the year of application).

Get advice

If the whole process is daunting, or if there’s something you’re unsure about, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Studentfinance.ie and susi.ie have information online. Citizensinformation.ie, also have a helpline with people trained to deal with specific questions regarding financial support.


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