Check on Your Mates and support youth mental health! This year, Youthline has released the 'Check on Your Mates' collection, where all proceeds go to supporting Youthline's Helpline.
The Check On Your Mates collection is made to inspire supporting friends and destigmatizing conversations around mental health. Our Check On Your Mates Collection includes:
- Check on Your Mates Tote Bag
- Check on Your Mates T-Shirt
- Check on Your Mates Socks
- Check on Your Mates Tea Towels
Find our Check on Your Mates merch here
A Youthline commissioned, nationwide survey of young people around the biggest issues for young people and their help-seeking behaviours.
Please see the most recent report below.
The end of the school year can be an incredibly stressful time. If you're feeling it, know that you're not alone. In August we did a survey and found that 55% of young people in New Zealand aged 15-24 thought that stress was one of the biggest issues facing them, and the biggest thing stressing people out was school/university/exams/study/homework.
The feeling of overwhelm and the pressure to be successful is a lot. We've pulled together some useful resources to help you understand where stress comes from and some tricks and tools for managing it.
1. Identifying Stress
In small doses, stress can help you get things done, like pass a test or achieve a goal. But if you’re stressed all the time, you end up draining your body of the energy it needs to function normally. Learn how to identify signs of stress in yourself so you can take steps to improve your mood. Learn the signs.
2. How Stress Works
Back in the caveman days, our brain developed in a way that helped us to keep safe from danger. So if we started getting chased by a bear, our brain would release chemicals that would help us to fight the bear off, run away from the bear or freeze so the bear wouldn’t see us. This was known as the “Fight, Flight, Freeze” response. Today, our brains still respond to stressful events in the same way and this can get in the way of living our lives unless we help release those FFF chemicals. Learn how stress works.
3. Relieving Stress
This is the big one! And there are a lot of different tools and techniques - different strokes, for different folks.
Here are some of our favourite ideas:
Creative ideas for stress relief
Exercising for stress relief
Decluttering your mind
Talk it out - with a friend, family member or with us. Calling or texting Youthline is free, anonymous and confidential.
4. Supporting Others
If your friend is really stressed out, being there to listen can be a huge help. Please make sure that you're also getting supported as the support person. We are also really happy to help you come up with a plan to support a friend.
If you are a parent or teacher worried about your kids or students, please feel free to reach out. We offer exam stress seminars in schools around this time of year, please get in touch to find out more.
To help, we’ve put together this guide of ways to support young people during the holiday period:
Check-in and listen
It’s important to let young people know that you are always there to listen to what is going on for them. Check-in with the young person in your life often and do your best to listen to what they have to say without judgement.
Keep them connected
Encourage the young person in your life to stay connected with friends and support networks. Remember that staying in touch might involve seeing friends and family in person, as well as online.
Keep to a routine
Help to keep a regular routine for eating, sleeping and exercise. Research shows all these factors are crucial in supporting mental wellbeing.
Be ready to negotiate
The summer can be a busy time of year with a lot of family and community events. While spending time with family and friends helps to keep us connected, it can also lead to stress and anxiety for some young people. Be open to negotiating with young people around events with family and friends and let them know that their wellbeing is a priority at this time.
Talk about your feelings
Normalise talking about feelings and let young people know that it’s ok to not feel ok. Reducing stigma around mental health is crucial in helping young people feel safe to reach out for support when they need it.
Let them know where to get help
Discuss the ways the young person in your life can seek support if they need it. This could be by talking to you, a family member, friend or a support service like Youthline.
COVID-19 has left us all with a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions. It’s hard to know where to turn to for the information we need. We hope this page will be helpful in pointing you towards some great sources of info!
New Zealand resources
The New Zealand government’s Unite Against COVID-19 page has a comprehensive list of resources related to COVID-19, the rules and regulations around the current lockdown level, and the current state of New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19. The Ministry of Health provides updates, information and advice on COVID-19.
Keep in mind that much of the information provided by these sources is quite dense and detailed. We have listed friendlier resources later on in this post. If you do have a specific question and you are keen to find an answer, these government resources should have the information you need.
For students, parents, whānau and teachers, the Ministry of Education has a Learning from Home page that has many resources on coping with the COVID-19 crisis. This includes several tip sheets and modules related to COVID-19, both for adults and youth.
For young people, check out this Wellbeing Support for Young People tip sheet, which provides advice on coping with the stressful time brought on by COVID-19. There’s also the Wellbeing and Learning at Home During School Closures resource, which provides advice specific to coping with remote learning, and also check out our Youthline guidance around studying from home.
Other useful government pages are The Ministry of Education (who provides advice for tertiary students and advice for students, parents and whānau) and Work and Income, who provides work-related advice and guidance for employment rules and financial assistance during this time.
The World Economic Forum has a few resources on what the global community of youth are doing to fight COVID-19. They recommend that young people:
UNESCO has launched a platform for youth around the world to share their experiences of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. You can read stories or contribute your own here.
As we’re spending more time online and less time socialising face to face, using digital technology in a way that is healthy and safe can be a challenge. Facebook’s Get Digital Citizenship and Wellbeing programme has a specific section designed for youth that discusses how to make healthy digital decisions, stay safe, build resilience, find a supportive community and use/create technology to promote good in the world.
NetSafe, a New Zealand non-profit for online safety, also has tips and resources for making the most of online time, advice for staying safe online and resources for identifying and shutting down online bullying.
COVID-19 science resources
Interested in science and curious about how COVID-19 works? Maybe you also have some younger family members part of your bubble? Nanogirl has some videos for children that explain what COVID-19 actually is and why hand-washing really does work. Other COVID-19 resources for kids, including stories and activities, can be found on the KidsHealth website.
For something a little more challenging, scientist Siouxsie Wiles and cartoonist Toby Morris have teamed up to explain the science behind COVID-19 in more detail. They make articles, cartoons and videos almost every day on lots of different topics related to science and COVID-19.
Studying from home is a new challenge for many of us. If you are in secondary school, uni, training, working, or anything and everything in between, we hope some of the tips below will be helpful.
Treat school days like school days
Even though you are studying from home, it is really helpful to keep a schedule that still feels like going to school. On a normal school day, you’d get out of bed at a usual time, get dressed, have breakfast and start your day. There would be breaks throughout the day and school would end at a set time. Sticking to this kind of schedule can help you stay focused and on task throughout your day. Still remember to have scheduled breaks – this will stop you from feeling too drained.
Find a place to work
With most of us at home, it is important to carve out a space that is ours as much as is possible. Have a chat with your parents, siblings or other people in your bubble about how to share space. Set rules and boundaries that identify your space and the times you need to focus. Communicating your needs will help others respect your space and time.
Keep distractions to a minimum
There are far more distractions at home than at school –the fridge is right there, the other people you live with are around and entertainment and social media are just a click away. Try to limit distractions during study time by choosing a space that is as quiet as possible and that is separate from your normal distractions. One of our best tips is to put your phone away while you are studying. If you still feel tempted by your phone, turn it off or give it to someone else in your household until you have a scheduled break.
Make sure you have what you need
Depending on where you live and your level of study, accessing school remotely may require physical material, a television, or even a computer and a good internet connection. If you do not have the materials you need, this is not your fault. As a student, you are entitled to accessible education. It is really important to let your teachers know what materials you are missing and what you need to access learning. This may include a computer, internet access and a quiet space.
Your teachers can’t help you get materials unless they know what you need. Please speak up for yourself about your needs! They can then work with the government to ensure you have access to your education.
For many students and teachers, distance learning is brand new. Have a chat with your teachers if you are struggling with any of the work or concepts they are going over in class. Letting your teachers know when you’ve gotten lost will help them become better at teaching remotely, and it will also help other students who have the same questions but are shy about asking for a better explanation.
Nervous about speaking up? Give us a call.
Being proactive about getting what you need, whether it’s from your household or from your teachers, is especially important right now. Even so, it can be scary to ask for what you need, especially if you are naturally quiet or worried about putting others out. If you are nervous about talking about your needs, have a chat to a friend for some support, and you can also contact our Helpline. That way, you can practice what you are going to say and gain some confidence to speak about your needs. You can contact Youthline here.
For more information on distance learning, you can visit the Ministry of Education website where they have posted various resources available for distance learners, including educational TV channels in English and te reo Māori. There is also a separate Learning from Home website that contains educational resources in English, and the Kauwhata Reo website with educational material in te reo Māori.
Self-acceptance means unconditionally loving and accepting yourself for who you are. It means acknowledging what makes you special and unique. You can celebrate your talents, but also accept your flaws and limitations.
People with high self-acceptance are happier and better able to deal with stress, heartache or disappointment. How can you learn to gain self-acceptance?
Understand your past
Did you know that before the age of eight, our self-acceptance came from our parents/caregivers? If your parents showed you that you were accepted and loved no matter what, then you viewed yourself more positively than other kids whose parents wouldn’t or couldn’t give them this assurance.
Sometimes, parents teach us that we’re only acceptable if we perform certain behaviours – if we’re smart enough, strong enough, good enough, loud enough, etc. This can internalise feelings of rejection and criticism. Understanding and acknowledging challenges to self-acceptance from your past is a step toward overcoming them.
Set your intention
Recognise the thoughts, feelings, and actions that prevent your self-acceptance. Acknowledge pain from the past and present that play into your low self-acceptance, but then put them aside. Remind yourself that how you feel isn’t a measure of what is true. Set an intention in your mind that you deserve to love and accept yourself, and that you’re awesome just the way you are.
Celebrate your awesomeness
Make a list of your past achievements and things that you’re good at. Did you win a spelling bee or a writing contest? Are you a star player on your sports team? Write it down! What positive qualities do you bring to a friendship or a family? If you can’t think of anything, ask your friends and family members to contribute their ideas.
Whenever you feel down or you’re obsessing over a failure, look at this list to remind yourself that you’re special.
Surround yourself with great people
Cultivate friendships and spend time with people who lift you up and accept you unconditionally. If your friends accept you, it can help you to accept yourself. Positive friendships are a key to happiness, according to scientific studies.
If someone tries to change who you are or criticizes you for things outside your control, they’re probably a negative influence on your life, and you’re better off without them.
Stop comparing yourself to others
It doesn’t matter what other people do or how they achieve. It only matters what you do. Refocus your energy from looking outward to looking inward – find joy in your own life. Stop looking at social media if it makes you feel bad. (Most people on social media only show a certain view of their life – it’s not reality at all).
This is the hardest thing to do, but accepting yourself means acknowledging you’re human, and you make mistakes. That’s okay, as long as you admit it was a mistake, and then move forward. Remind yourself that you made the decision you could at the time, and that you’re not the same person now.
Apologise to people you’ve hurt, including yourself. Try to learn from your mistakes so it doesn’t happen again. Mistakes are how we grow as people.
Are you practicing self-acceptance in your life? Do you find you feel happier when you accept yourself more? What are your top tips for self-acceptance?
According to educator Anjali Hazari, unrealistic parental pressure for a teen to succeed is the most common cause of stress among students.
Parents aren’t the only ones guilty of putting pressure on teens. You may experience pressure to succeed from teachers or faculty members. A friend may force you into a competition over grades or sports. Siblings may try to push you harder. It doesn’t matter who is applying the pressure, except that you want to make them happy, and your desire to please them is stressing you out.
If you’re feeling pressure from other people, and it’s impacting your life, there are a few techniques you can use to release the strain:
Realise it’s probably not about you
When people you care about put unrealistic expectations on you, it often has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with something going on in your own life. Perhaps your dad feels as though he didn’t get opportunities in school and he doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes. Maybe your friend is struggling to please her own parents and so she competes with you as a way to make herself feel better. Your teacher or coach may be under pressure to lift grades or to look good in front of colleagues.
Knowing that something isn’t about you can make it easier to endure. However, that might not be enough to help you deal.
Confront them about their actions
The people who put pressure on your do it because they care about you. Sometimes they can’t see how their words and actions affect you – that’s why it’s important to tell them.
You don’t have to get into a screaming argument about it. Instead, take some time to carefully write down how their actions have impacted you. Try this formula, “When you do (action), it makes me feel (feeling).” For example, “When you get upset with me because I didn’t get an A, it makes me feel as if the only time I please you is when I make good grades.” Avoid absolutes – “You always do this!” because it deflects the conversation away from the point you’re trying to make.
If possible, present a plan of action for how to improve the relationship. Ask for what you need. Present it as a way to improve your performance. “What I really need is some quiet time for two hours in the evening to study. I’ll be working hard during that time. But outside of that, I’d like to relax and not think about schoolwork, so if would could avoid talking about exams over dinner, I’d really appreciate it.”
Impossible expectations and pressure can have a negative impact on your studies, sports, and social life – so find a way to manage the problem and help others to see how their behaviour might hurt you. You need to confront the problem or it will continue.
Research has shown that using affirmations to create positive thoughts about yourself can dramatically improve your body and mind. Here’s how to use affirmations in your life.
What are affirmations?
An affirmation is a positive statement you can repeat to yourself. By framing affirmations in the present tense, using positive words, and speaking as if the statement is a fact, you rewrite the language of your brain and adopt a positive outlook.
Affirmations can help you give up destructive behaviour, feel better about your life, find a way to deal with grief or loss, improve focus, and create healthy habits.
How to use affirmations
First, you need to find an affirmation that speaks to you. It needs to conform to the three key factors:
Then, you need to repeat this affirmation to yourself throughout the day. You might like to create a ritual of saying it to yourself every morning, or when you go to class. You could write it on the front page of your notebook or make it your phone’s screensaver. Some people like to combine touch with their affirmation – perhaps by tapping your hand, using EFT, or touching an area where you feel negative emotion.
Affirmations to try
Here are some affirmations you could try. You might also like to create your own based on the formula (present tense, positive words, stated as fact).
I am loving and loved.
It is easy for me to look in the mirror and say, “I love you.”
Today, I am overflowing with energy and joy.
I possess all the qualities I need to be successful.
I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I’ve received.
I am courageous and I stand up for myself.
My efforts are supported by the universe.
My obstacles are moving out of my way.
My life is already a miracle of change and I’m shaping my destiny.
I love everything about my body.
My body is healthy and full of energy.
I find opportunities to be kind everywhere I look.
I am present in every moment.
People treat me with kindness and respect, because I deserve it.
I learn from my mistakes.
I never give up.
If you want the kind of deep, real friendships you read about in books or see on TV, then you’ve first got to learn how to be a good friend.
Be yourself. Don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not just because you think that will help you make friends. When you’re pretending, you feel uncomfortable and you make others feel uncomfortable. Friends respond to your realness and seek your unique take on the world.
Make time. Friendships develop over time, and the best friends know their time is a gift that they give to special people. Make sure you include your friend in your plans and make time for them amongst your other activities.
Be honest. Friendship thrives on honesty and withers on lies. Friends speak the truth to each other, even when it’s hard. Friends keep promises – when you say you’re going to do something, do it.
Notice. Your friend might pretend everything is fine when it’s not. Notice their moods, their actions, when they lash out or shrink into themselves. Be brave enough to confront your friend or to find help for them, even if they can’t or won’t help themselves.
Be loyal. Sometimes, your friend will screw up. Loyalty doesn’t mean following your friend even when they’re making bad decisions. It means that you accept they’re human and make mistakes, and that you are willing to work through conflict and be there for them when they need you.
Lift them up. Be the person in your friend’s life who makes them burst with confidence and good vibes. Show them you think they’re special, encourage them to do better and to pursue opportunities, and make them laugh when they’re sad.
Respect boundaries. You don’t have to be with your friend or in contact 24/7. The quality of your friendship isn’t measured by how much time you spend together. Some people need more space than others to recharge, so make sure you’re giving your friend the space they need.
Keep in touch. The best friendships endure long after you leave school, even if you’re in different cities or timezones. The internet makes it easier than ever to keep in touch with your friends. Use the tools you have available to stay in touch even when you’re far away.
Being a good friend takes work – but the rewards are more than worth the effort. Do you think you’re a good friend? What can you do today to make your friend’s life better?