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If we asked you to name three things you would change about your body if you could, chance are, you could name them quickly without much thought. What if we asked you to name three things you love about how you look? For many of us, that can feel more challenging.
We all have periods where we aren’t happy about our bodies. While low body and low self-esteem aren’t mental health problems in themselves, they can negatively affect our mental health and other areas of our lives. The more positive we feel about ourselves, the better our outlook on life; the more resilient we are, the more ready we feel to handle life’s unexpected ups and downs.
How can I help my teen feel confident in their body?
1. Challenge your own thinking – practising what we preach and working on our own body image issues can be tough, but can have a huge impact. According to one survey, we may be passing on our own insecurities to those closest to us. Of those who reported being unhappy with their body shape, 90% said their own mother had an ‘insecure body image’.
Children and teens look at their closest friends and family to guide their own relationships with their bodies. How we talk about ourselves, how we look, our relationship with food, diet culture and our bodies, as well as how we speak about other women in the news and on social media can have a huge impact on how young people perceive themselves.
2. Acknowledge your own insecurities and struggles – being open and honest about how we feel about our bodies with ourselves is tough enough, let alone with others. Being open and honest about our own insecurities can help young people feel more able to speak up, seek reassurance, and ask for help.
When you are struggling with low body confidence, it can feel isolating. You may feel like you are the only one experiencing these kinds of feelings, or may think everyone else knows what they’re doing. Sharing your insecurities can help open up a dialogue, starting open, honest conversations, and helping teens to feel less daunted when talking about their own experiences.
3. Share the power of body neutrality and body positivity – going from having a negative body image to body positivity can feel like a big jump for those who may struggle with body image. Body neutrality can offer a safe space for those who struggle with self-love or seeing their bodies in a positive light.
Whilst body positivity originally aimed to give a voice to marginalised bodies (fat, queer, disabled), it has become more broadly confused with general self-love and body confidence over the years, making many feel pushed out of the community that was originally designed to support them.
Body neutrality can help steer individuals away from self-hate without the pressure of having to love their bodies, instead working towards getting to a place where they can respect themselves without giving too much energy to positive or negative thoughts around their body.
4. Remember teenage boys can have body image issues too – the media widely focuses on the struggles young women have with how they look. Many assume that body image issues and eating disorders only affect the stereotypical young, thin, white women and girls, when actually they can affect people of all backgrounds, ages, races, and genders.
Young men may feel the pressure to be strong, tall, chivalrous but not overbearing. To embrace equality but still fulfil traditional expectations of athleticism, strength, not showing their emotions, all while aiming to be high-earners who can support a family without encroaching on their partner’s independence or career.
The Australian Psychological Society revealed male body image dissatisfaction has tripled over the past 25 years, with 45% of men now feeling dissatisfied with how they look. Many feel there is a pressure to display strength, security, and masculinity through their physical appearance, putting pressure on young men who do not fit this traditional mould.
It’s important to talk about mental health, well-being, and gender stereotypes with young men just as much as young women, as these can all impact their perception of what they ‘should’ look like. Explain that they shouldn’t feel pressured to aim for a certain physical appearance. Instead, aiming for a healthy, balanced lifestyle is key to avoiding issues such as exercise addiction. Introducing teens to body neutrality can be a good first step towards helping them feel comfortable.
5. Talk about social media – having a conversation around social media and how it makes them feel can have a big impact. Studies have shown that social media may impact how young women see their bodies, while further studies around social media and mental health have been much debated.
While some studies have suggested social media may not be affecting us as negatively as first thought, research from the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, looked into the effects of social media on how young women see their own body image. Looking at women aged 18-27, their findings suggested that social media engagement with attractive friends and, classmates and colleagues can increase negative body image. Young women felt more dissatisfied with their bodies and own appearance after looking at social media.
While government guidelines around social media usage and recommended scrolling time for children and teens are on their way, it’s worth opening up the conversation now. Having an open, honest, frank discussion about social media and the potential impact it can have can help uncover any feelings of negativity (or positivity) it may be having on their well-being.
6. Encourage role models of all shapes and sizes – when Tess Holiday became Cosmo’s first plus-size cover girl, the backlash was huge. At a UK size 24, Tess highlighted everything fat women are often afraid to be, sharing her confidence and vulnerabilities equally. By seeing more bodies of different shapes, sizes, and kinds of beauty, we can help show young people that there isn’t a singular ideal of what we should all want to look like. There is no one ‘perfect’ body.
Tess herself summed it up best: “If I saw a body like mine on this magazine [Cosmopolitan] when I was a young girl, it would have changed my life”.
As writer Laura Capon explained, “When I saw that cover with Tess…I thought she looked so incredibly beautiful. I saw her tattoos, her thick thighs, her boobs, and I could have cried, because if I could see her beauty, maybe there was beauty in my body too.” By showing teens a wider range of bodies, we can help them to accept and grow to love themselves no matter what shape, size, or imperfections they may worry they have.
Many of the images we see in magazines and across various media platforms can give us a skewed view of what we should aspire to look like. While we may understand that many of these women have been retouched again and again, for young people, it can be harder to realise that the images they are shown aren’t attainable. Not even the women within these photos look like that. By instead highlighting different types of beauty, we can help young people learn to recognise and overcome their own insecurities.
7. Keep an eye out for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – while rare, BDD can affect people of any age, at any time. Affecting an estimated 1% of the UK, it typically starts during puberty when young people are the most sensitive about the way they look.
Signs to keep an eye out for can include spending significant periods of time looking at themselves in mirrors or avoiding them altogether, altering their appearance, wearing excessive makeup, or expressing a desire for cosmetic surgery. Other signs can include being anxious around others, comparing their appearance to others, developing obsessive behaviours (such as brushing or styling their hair excessively, trying to cover perceived flaws with makeup), or wearing baggy clothing to disguise their body shape.
Sometimes misinterpreted as individuals being vain, this fear of being judged can prevent some tees from speaking up and seeking help. Without help and support, BDD can lead to other conditions such as depression, self-harm, and substance abuse.
8. Encourage a positive mindset – automatic negative thoughts can be tricky to overcome. Teaching teens to focus on the positives and redirect their thoughts to other skills, characteristics, passions, or abilities can help to counter negative body image.
Remember to be careful to avoid sounding as though you are judging any of their feelings around their body image. While our automatic response may be to deny or counter what is being said if they express a certain negative or harsh view of themselves, we can risk sounding as though we are dismissing their experience and ignoring how they feel.
Instead, encourage them to explore why they feel this way. Identifying specific negative influences and triggers can help them to refocus towards a positive mindset, avoiding or removing negative influences, and discovering new ways to combat these in the future.
9. Focus on health over image – try to bring the emphasis back around to the importance of being healthy and happy, over thin or muscular. Steering conversations towards the importance of nutrition over diet talk, staying physically fit over losing weight, and the ways food can affect and even boost their mood or reduce tiredness can all help.
Encouraging activities such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation can all help young people to feel more in tune with their body and how they are really feeling.
If you’ve ever seen the words ‘social media’ and ‘body image’ together in a headline, chances are they were accompanied by a scary statistic about how platforms like Instagram can make us feel bad about our bodies.
While there is some research to back this up (especially when it comes to comparison between peers), it’s important for us to know that this isn’t the full story.
Social media is what we make of it. As consumers, we choose what we fill our newsfeeds with and how we use these platforms. Following accounts that portray a very specific beauty ideal and comparing our bodies to others is a sure-fire way to make us feel bad about the way we look.
Following more inspiring body positive accounts, reading self-compassion quotes and even trying your hand at creative self-portraits could all help to encourage a more positive relationship between you and your body.
Widen your view of ‘beauty’ with body positive accounts
The world around us is a pretty diverse place. The problem is, our social media feeds often don’t reflect this. We might fall into a bubble, following a certain type of person (usually people who look like us). We might follow celebrities, influencers or even companies whose job is to sell us their brand of lifestyle.
When we diversify our feeds, we get a taste of other cultures, other experiences and other body types. The body positivity community is full of inspiring people, each proving that you don’t need to look one certain way to be happy.
A study published in SAGE journals found that when young women aged 18-30 were exposed to body positive posts, they experienced improvements in positive mood, body satisfaction and body appreciation (relative to thin-ideal and appearance-neutral posts).
What to do: Give your feeds a refresh. Unfollow or mute anyone who makes you feel bad about your body image and seek out more positive and diverse accounts to follow. We love @bodyposipanda, @tess.daly and @gracefvictory.
Encourage self-love by reading inspirational quotes
It may sound a little cliche, but reading empowering quotes can have an effect on the way you view your body. A 2017 study looking into the effects of ‘fitspiration’ compared to self-compassion quotes found that the self-compassion quotes had a positive impact on both body satisfaction and mood.
A good tip here is to find quotes that speak to you. If you find yourself reading along while rolling your eyes, you’re not likely to gain much from it. Seek out words that you can relate to and that genuinely inspire you.
What to do: Search for accounts that encourage self-compassion in a voice that feels relatable.
Gain acceptance of your own body by taking creative self-portraits
Whether you’re striving to reach a place of body neutrality, or are after full-blown self-love, the first step is to accept your body as it is. If you struggle with this, you may find you avoid looking at yourself in pictures or even avoid mirrors. Getting to know your body, as it is right now is key.
One way to do this is by taking self-portraits. Instead of a standard selfie though, try to get creative. Take pictures of different parts of your body at first – even shadows and reflections in windows can be a good starting point. Then work your way up to incorporating your whole body. Play with props like flowers and books, or use unusual angles and perspectives. This can help you accept your body and see it in a new light.
What to do: Experiment with self-portraits, get inspired by searching ‘creative self-portraits’ on Pinterest. Bonus points for posting your photos on Instagram!
Different kinds of talking therapies can help all kinds of people through their unique situations. Whether you’re going through a bad time or need help and support with a specific problem or issue, according to the NHS, talking therapies can be just as or more effective than medication.
Speaking with a professional, qualified therapist can in many ways feel easier than talking to loved ones. You may feel you are more able to open out without fear of being judged, to speak freely, as well as to cry, get angry, or look at problems from new angles with the help of a counsellor.
While talking therapies don’t necessarily make a problem or issue go away, they can help you find a way to cope better with your situation or to feel happier. Counselling can help you cope with a wide variety of mental health problems, big life events, and upsetting situations. It can be helpful at any age for children through to elderly people.
What’s the difference between long and short-term counselling?
Other than their length, how do long and short-term therapies differ? Short-term counselling – also known as brief therapy or time-limited therapy – typically refers to solution-based therapy with a distinct goal in mind (for example, looking at patterns of negative thinking). Often having a tighter focus than long-term therapy, short-term sessions typically span six to twelve sessions.
Short-term sessions may involve tasks or assignments you need to complete each week outside of your sessions, while long-term therapy usually doesn’t. Time-limited therapy may have a more structured approach (both within the sessions themselves and overall), whereas long-term sessions can be more led by where you decide to take each session, exploring your past, thoughts, memories or experiences.
Where short-term therapies often focus on how you can improve your life now, focusing on issues you are experiencing in your day-to-day life, long-term therapies tend to look more at the past, helping you understand both yourself and how your past may affect things you do today.
What different types of therapy are available, and what can they help with?
Different types of short and long-term therapies can be effective for different issues. Some of the types offered can include:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a popular short-term therapy, CBT can help you recognise how your thoughts can affect your feelings and behaviour. Examining your thoughts and behaviours, CBT tries to break overwhelming problems down into smaller, more manageable parts that you can work towards changing in the present.
Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT) – a short-term therapy that looks at the way you relate to others, and how this affects the way you see yourself. Helping you to create new ways to relate with others and new patterns that can lead to seeing yourself in a more positive light, DIT offers the space to talk openly about what is affecting you now whilst uncovering past hurts that may also be affecting you.
Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) – looking at past events and experiences and how they are affecting your present, CAT aims to help you understand why you feel, think and behave how you do. A type of short-term therapy, it also helps you to problem solve and develop new ways of coping, as well as helping you recognise how the way you’re behaving with and around others can affect your life as a whole.
Solution-focused therapy – also known as solution-focused brief therapy or just brief therapy, is based around solution-building rather than problem-solving. Looking at your future hopes and current resources, it helps you to use your own strengths, look forward, and achieve your goals.
Psychodynamic therapy– a form of long-term therapy, psychodynamic therapy also known as psychodynamic counselling aims to bring the unconscious mind to the surface. Helping you to understand your deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them, it looks to uncover painful feelings or memories. Generally thought to be more effective treating specific issues such as depression, anxiety or addiction, it can be particularly beneficial if you feel like your life may have lost meaning, or you have trouble maintaining or forming personal relationships.
Psychoanalytic therapy – typically looking at your early childhood experiences to see if they have had a particular impact on your life or current worries, long-term psychoanalytic therapy can last from months to years. Aiming to help you start changing through the understanding of your past and how early life events may be affecting you, sessions vary depending on why you are seeking therapy, but often involve time you can speak freely with your therapist in a non-judgemental, safe space.
While short-term therapies often tend to be solution-focused, some people feel they often do not look at the underlying reasons why you may be experiencing emotional difficulties or issues. If you are looking for more of a quick solution for a specific problem, short-term therapies can be beneficial, whereas if you would rather have space and time to explore multiple problems or an issue and its potential roots in-depth, long-term therapy may be the right choice for you.
What kind of therapy is right for me?
It’s hard to know what type of therapy will work best for you; it can really vary between individuals – there’s no single ‘best’ type of counselling for a specific issue of life event. Just because a type of therapy may be popular or have worked for someone else you know, doesn’t mean it will have the same benefits for you. Exploring your reasons for talking to someone, reading more about the different types of therapy on offer, and trying sessions with different therapists until you find someone you click with can all help you to find what works for you.
Some counsellors may offer alternative kinds of sessions from traditional face-to-face counselling, including online counselling. These can range from video or phone calls, to emails or instant messaging. Whatever your unique needs are, qualified, professional therapists can offer help and support to suit you.
If you’re finding it difficult to find a method or therapist you connect with, try to remember: therapy is an ongoing process that requires commitment and being present. It can take more than one session before you start feeling or seeing the benefit.
No matter which kind of therapy you decide to try, recognising you may need help and support is the first step towards making positive changes.
What do I need: a support group or group therapy? It can be tricky to figure out exactly what the differences are between the two. After all, they’re both groups focused on talking, aren’t they? Can they really be that different?
Joining any kind of group to share personal struggles and experiences can feel daunting, but speaking with others who have or are experiencing similar issues can offer a lot in return. Knowing what different ways each type of group may work can help you find the best method of support for you. It’s good to remember: it’s ok to try different options. It’s all about finding what works best for you, not sticking with a single option that you think should work for you.
Group therapy and support groups: what’s the difference?
While each group offers a different kind of support, both group counselling and support groups share some characteristics. Bringing together people who are dealing with similar issues or concerns in a safe environment, each offers you the space to explore sharing in a group setting, potentially helping you to increase your sense of self-awareness, make new connections with others, and gain a sense of community.
“Groups offer a range of perspectives and responses to you and your difficulties, which give an advantage over individual therapy where you only encounter the views of one other person. The experiences of being in a therapy group can feel closer to ‘real life’, at least partly because the other members are not there as professionals. This means that some difficulties ‘out there’ can be more obviously tackled ‘in here’.”
Both group therapy and support groups each have distinct boundaries for attendees to follow. While they offer the space to be open and candid, each often requires those taking part to remain respectful of each other. But how do the two types of group differ, and do they offer support for different issues?
Professional therapist or experienced individual – group therapy is typically led by a professionally qualified therapist, counsellor or psychologist who has experience within one or more specific areas. They may act as a facilitator, guiding the focus of group discussions or arranging group activities such as icebreakers, trust building activities, or psychological exercises designed to help individuals gain insight or increase their self-awareness.
Support groups may be run by a qualified professional or by others who have experienced similar issues themselves. Support groups generally offer a space for people who have or are sharing similar experiences or struggles, providing each other with support and a safe space to share. Available in-person or online, the focus of each meeting usually comes from discussions between group members (though someone may help steer the conversation at times).
Coping versus changing – one of the simplest ways to understand the differences between a support group and group therapy is to look at the primary purpose. Support groups are typically based around helping you learn to cope with a specific issue, e.g. helping you come to terms with the death of a loved one and sharing experiences on how others have learned to cope with their grief following a bereavement.
In group therapy, the focus is often on ways those attending want to change, start better understanding both their thoughts and their behaviours that may be leading to problems in other areas of their life.
Same or similar issues – support groups tend to focus on a single, common shared issue. Some of the better-known examples would be alcoholics anonymous (AA) or narcotics anonymous (NA). Although, support groups are available for a wide variety of issues, from coping with grief to supporting family members through their cancer diagnosis. Those attending a support group typically are coping with one similar issue or experience.
In group therapy, the experiences of the group can vary. Some may have a mixture of different issues, such as having members who are experiencing anxiety or depression, whilst others may only have people who are all experiencing a single issue.
Group therapy can be applied to a variety of approaches, helping with a number of different concerns. There are certain areas that are particularly thought to benefit from speaking and working together as part of a group dynamic, which can include addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), relationship counselling, self-harm, and schizophrenia.
Group focus and dynamics – different types of groups each have different focuses. A support group often focuses on supporting and encouraging each other through the healing process. Sharing their own experiences in ways that can encourage, uplift, and strengthen each other, attendees are encouraged to listen respectfully and with empathy. Many support groups help each other learn how to cope with things they cannot change.
In group therapy, individuals may be encouraged to think about how they feel and behave both within the group and outside in their day-to-day lives, sharing how they feel about their circumstances and relationships. Encouraged to be honest and vulnerable, group members often give and receive feedback rather than purely encouragement from other members of the group.
For example, a bereavement support group may help you come to terms with your loss and discover ways you can cope with your grief. A therapy group may instead look at ways you can better understand your thoughts and behaviours, changing them and improving on any problems they may be causing you in other areas of your life.
“Joining a therapy/personal growth group to look at how the individual is is often challenging. However, the rewards are great. There is space to appreciate how we are in these situations, to explore different ways of being in groups, increase self-awareness, and enjoy the company and feedback of others while allowing others to do the same. The safety and development can be a very uplifting experience.”
Each offers different levels of interaction – while it can vary from group to group, generally, members of support groups are encouraged to interact with each other if they run into one another outside of sessions. This could be anything from a friendly greeting, to asking how someone is feeling about issues they may have expressed concern about during a support group session.
Those who attend group therapy are generally encouraged to keep what happens in the room inside the room, rather than discussing sensitive things brought up within a group counselling session outside of that safe space.
Time commitment – support groups are typically open, meaning you can start or leave at any time. You are still encouraged to attend regularly, as this can be beneficial for both you and the group, however you are usually free to drop in when suits you.
Group therapy often requires more of a commitment from you. Typically asking for an initial commitment of two to three months, individuals are asked to attend each session as missing them can be more disruptive, or you may miss out on big disclosures made in one session that are discussed at a later date. While committing for several months may sound daunting, this can help individuals feel more comfortable opening up and sharing within sessions.
When we think about counselling, a lot of us have a similar picture come to mind: a stuffy, slightly clinical office, and a middle-aged therapist asking about your past. While that may still be a popular portrayal in the media, it’s just one type of therapy. Face-to-face counselling isn’t the only option.
Online counselling has grown rapidly in popularity due to lower wait times, convenience and often, a lower cost than face-to-face therapy. Known by a wide variety of names, from e-counselling and e-therapy to email or telephone counselling, as well as digital therapy or telepsychology, there are even app and web-based options available to fit your needs.
What is online therapy?
Online counselling covers a wide range of mediums from instant messages to video chats. Offering the same level of support and confidentiality as face-to-face sessions with qualified counsellors or therapists, it’s been around for a while and has only grown in popularity in recent years.
Providing access to qualified experts who may be further away from you, often at more convenient times to suit your schedule, online therapy can take place anywhere with a steady internet connection. Different therapists may offer online counselling through a number of mediums, including:
instant messaging (IM)
What does online therapy involve and what should I expect?
Each type of e-counselling works slightly differently. It’s important to double-check the website or service you’re using to make sure their counsellors and psychotherapists are all qualified practitioners who belong to a professional body. This can help ensure you are receiving advice and support from trained, experienced individuals.
When you start with a new therapist, there is typically a consultation session before you begin. This provides time to get to know the counsellor a little better, ask questions, and raise any concerns you may have. Typically, your therapist will ask what you hope to get out of therapy or why you are looking to talk to a counsellor and ask a little background information about you.
During this time, guidelines and expectations will be set around communications, response times (if using a message-based option), fees, as well as privacy and confidentiality.
Email counselling – exchanging emails with a therapist gives you the space to write down any problems or concerns. Your therapist will then reply with a considered, therapeutic response within a pre-determined set period of time, ranging from hours to several days.
The act of writing down your problems can, in and of itself, be an effective way to help process any negative emotions you may experience. Those who may feel uncomfortable speaking about their problems out loud can find this to be a particularly effective method, as it takes off the pressure of verbally articulating yourself in the moment, giving you space to figure out what you want to say (and how you want to say it).
As emails can be written at any time, some people find this eases feelings of anxiety around having to share their worries or concern within a set time. This also can give you the freedom to write what is on your mind at the moment, rather than waiting until your next face-to-face session.
Telephone counselling – taking place over your phone, some counsellors offer this in addition to face-to-face sessions, while others offer it as an option by itself. As with typical counselling session, appointments are pre-scheduled for set times in which you or your therapist will call to speak for a pre-determined length of time.
Video chat counselling – offering many of the benefits of face-to-face counselling with the added convenience of online therapy, video chat sessions tend to use a secure platform or app chosen by your therapist. Combining visual and audio feedback, some feel that conversations can flow more organically through video chat sessions compared to instant messaging or email sessions.
Instant message counselling – similar to email counselling, instant message (IM) counselling allows you to write down your thoughts, rather than having to verbalise them. Varying between counsellors, this may be in the form of a real-time text-based conversation over a set period, or it may act more like email counselling with your therapist getting back to you within a pre-determined length of time.
What are the pros and cons of online therapy?
While the benefits and drawbacks of online counselling can vary between individuals, there are many points worth considering if you are looking to find a counsellor or try digital therapy.
Reasons people choose online therapy can include:
Accessibility – popular appointment times (evenings and weekends) can book up fast with some counsellors, as these hours can be in high demand. Online counselling may offer more flexibility and shorter waiting times to speak to a qualified counsellor, making it easier for you to gain support when you need it.
For those who may have mobility issues or disabilities that make it stressful or challenging to get to their therapists’ office, online counselling can help overcome some of these barriers. Those experiencing social phobias, anxiety disorders, or agoraphobia may also find online counselling is more accessible.
Convenience – access support from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you are), without the inconvenience of having to physically travel to your counsellor. This can not only save time and money, but can also let those living in more rural areas access qualified experts from further afield. In addition to this, many therapists offer extended office hours for online sessions, while forms such as email therapy allow you to send your thoughts at a time that works best for you.
Openness – some people feel more comfortable opening up and discussion sensitive issues through the buffer provided by a screen or phone. For those who may feel particularly nervous or anxious during face-to-face counselling sessions, online therapy can offer an alternative means of support.
Affordability – by offering distance therapy sessions, this can help cut the costs for both counsellors and clients. Some counsellors pass along savings made by not having to rent a private counselling space and pay the associated overheads, reflecting this in a lower hourly rate for phone or online sessions.
Privacy – for those who are worried about others finding out about their treatment, online counselling can feel like it offers a higher level of privacy. Fitting seamlessly into your schedule without the need to block out more time to go and physically visit a therapist, some like the feeling of anonymity that they may feel by communicating through screens.
Drawbacks for online therapy can include:
A lack of non-verbal feedback – building the same level of rapport gained through face-to-face counselling can be tricky for some people. Without the immediate feedback provided by body language, facial expressions, and small verbal cues such as hm’ing, conversations may feel a little more stilted or the intended tone can be missed.
Accreditation – not all apps and online sites used professionally accredited therapists. Before signing up or during your initial contact, make sure to check that you are speaking to a qualified, accredited counsellor.
All of our therapists and counsellors are registered with a professional UK body. As counselling isn’t regulated by law in the UK, selecting a trained counsellor or psychotherapist who is registered with a professional body can help ensure they are working to high standards, are capable, and have professional oversight.
Divided opinions on effectivity – expert opinions are fairly split, with many agreeing more research is needed into how effective online therapy is in comparison with face-to-face counselling. Some experts feel it should only be a supplemental, rather than the sole form of therapy, while others say it can work just as well. It’s important to remember different methods can work for different people and situations – it’s all about making sure to find what works best for you.
Confidentiality and security – although counsellers use secure or encrypted email and chat services, the nature of online therapy arguably has a greater potential for being breached. Counsellors do still have the same ethical responsibility to protect and maintain your confidentiality and the security of your information.
Technology trouble – a whole host of problems unique to online therapy can interrupt sessions. Internet connection trouble, service outage, computer errors, server crashes, network connectivity, and dropped calls can all disrupt the flow of your session or create feelings of frustration.
You may also need basic computer literacy skills, as well as a stable internet connection to get the most out of your sessions. While counsellors can often talk you through the basics of using unfamiliar video chat services or software, you will need to make sure your connection and devices are reliable.
Is online therapy right for me?
If you are thinking about speaking to a counsellor or therapist, it is always worth exploring the different options available to you. It can be worth considering your own unique situation and what you hope to get out of counselling.
If there are any particular barriers that may make face-to-face counselling more challenging, daunting, or hard to access, considering alternative options such as email or video counselling can be good alternatives.
It’s important to find your own comfort zone. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Remember: it’s ok to start with one method or therapist and to switch to an alternative if you don’t feel comfortable or as though things are working out for you. It’s about making sure that you find a method of communication that works best for you.
Binge-eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders, but it’s often the most misunderstood. We spoke to writer and mental health advocate Charlotte Underwood about her experience of binge-eating disorder and how a lack of understanding has prevented her from getting support.
Can you tell us how your eating disorder started and what triggers you think may have lead to it?
As a child I was healthy, I loved to exercise and I ate well. I didn’t think about my appearance because I was more focused on playing with friends and exploring. I moved home at the age of 7, and somehow, junk food became a huge part of my life. I was adjusting to a new environment and dealing with bullies, so things like sugar gave me a huge sense of comfort. As I grew and got older, I found myself wanting to eat more and more, it got out of control.
I would eat blocks of icing, tubs of golden syrup and anything that my mind decided to obsess over. I lost control of my diet and found myself following whatever my mind dictated. I went through a stage of losing weight and trying to be healthy as a teen, I was desperate to be seen as pretty and to be wanted, I didn’t want to be the ‘fat girl’ in school anymore, but this only developed into body dysmorphia and an alternate eating disorder.
I’ve gained and lost a lot of weight in my life, it seems that not much will stick in the long run, I tried all sorts of mechanisms to cope but they were unhealthy. I think that my biggest trigger was being bullied and feeling that I had no one to talk to, if I felt sad, I ate. I was so insecure but food gave me a sense of happiness that I didn’t find elsewhere, even if it was also the root of my insecurities.
Have you sought professional support?
I have mentioned my eating habits many times to a doctor, I’ve even admitted to binging every day, but I just seem to get pushed back with a shrug or the encouragement to go on a diet and walk outside more.
I didn’t get taken seriously when I flagged it, so I never pressed for the help I needed. I felt like I was just seen as another overweight person who was too lazy to exercise and who simply chose to eat more than I should.
I feel like people see binge eating as something that you do when you go through a breakup or if you’re ‘greedy’. It’s misrepresented in the media a lot and many people can’t see past the side effects of the condition, i.e. the weight. Because many people find it easy to control their diet and lifestyle, people don’t relate and they can’t seem to understand that binge eating is more of an addiction and unhealthy outlet, a mental illness, than a choice we actively make.
Binge-eating disorder is often unrepresented in the eating disorder conversation – what would you like more people to understand about the condition?
I wish people knew that I do not enjoy eating until I’m in agony. I do not enjoy crying because I can see my body in the mirror but my mind will not let go of the fact that it wants to eat, even when I tell it that I’ve already eaten. It’s not as simple as making a choice to diet, to run or to go to the gym; while this can sometimes help, if your mental health is not looked after it rarely lasts. This is something that runs deep, it’s from trauma and from a lack of support, it has never been my choice.
What would you say to someone struggling with binge-eating disorder right now?
It can feel like you cannot breathe in your own body, like you have never been detached more from the person you are and the person you see in the mirror. It’s like being a prisoner in your own mind, but people don’t see that. I know how it feels to be looked at like this monster, and being thrown ‘easy cures’ that you have tried a million times and they just don’t work.
The thing is, your weight doesn’t define your value. Your eating disorder is not a lie, it’s not something that you made up, I know that. People out there do understand, you are not alone and while it can take years, binge eating can be limited to a point that you know you’re back in control. Remember that it doesn’t need to be a life sentence, you are powerful and you are still the person you know you are, and you can be the person you want to be.
We spoke to counsellor Stella Stathi to get her insights on Charlotte’s story and explain how counselling can help those with binge-eating disorder.
One of the greatest difficulties people with binge-eating disorder face is other people’s misunderstanding of and negative bias toward their condition. Even though BED is much more common than anorexia or bulimia nervosa (it affects three times the number of people diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia combined) the understanding that it is as much a mental health issue as other types of eating disorders and not a conscious choice of the individual, does not seem to have become common knowledge yet.
Weight stigma and fat phobia are extremely widespread in our culture. This adds extra pressure on sufferers and their mental health. In addition to their personal difficulties, they also need to deal with people’s negative attitude and behaviour toward them. Sadly, the medical profession is not at all immune to weight bias, which, as a result, often prevents sufferers from receiving the health care they need and deserve, as was the case for this young woman.
Psychological support is of paramount importance when dealing with an eating disorder. Using the case of the interviewee as an example, working with a therapist could help her get to the root of her difficulties and discover a way out of the ‘prison’ of her own mind, as she describes it.
First and foremost, sharing one’s deepest truths and the most shame-filled, hidden parts of oneself, while being witnessed and held with compassion and unconditional acceptance, is one of the most healing experiences anyone can have.
Eating disorders thrive in secrecy, so taking this first step and opening up about what she is dealing with would be powerful, as it would immediately break the silence and the isolation.
A therapist could further support her in identifying the real, underlying, physical, mental and emotional needs that she unconsciously tries to meet through food and learn how to effectively satisfy them. It is important to note here that, in eating disorders treatment, the goal is not to simply give up or ‘get rid of’ food-related comping mechanisms – this always creates resistance and has the opposite outcome.
Our goal is to replace those mechanisms; to develop new, alternative and healthier skills and strategies, and strengthen them, so that the old, unhelpful ones become, over time, unnecessary.
In terms of emotional needs specifically, one of the most important skills that therapy would help her develop is emotional regulation; the ability to recognise and respond to challenging, painful emotions, in appropriate, compassionate ways, and soothe herself, without needing to resort to food to do that. Difficulty in coping with emotions lies at the very core of eating disorders, so this skill alone can be life-changing.
Eating disorders are not (just) about food; our relationship with food is always a reflection of our relationship with ourselves and others, so truly healing from an eating disorder requires deep inquiry and healing work in all areas of one’s life.
The ways we can connect with each other have grown exponentially over the past two decades. It’s hard to believe such a short time ago, many of us wouldn’t have thought twice about leaving home without our mobile, tablet, smartwatch (or a combination of the three) in hand.
With the rise of social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, even LinkedIn rapidly becoming must-haves for keeping up with our friends, the latest celebrity gossip, and wider work network we’re becoming more and more reliant on using tech-based means to keep in contact and in the know.
But can our fear of missing out on the digital updates from friends and family impact our relationships in real life? Is our growing reliance on tech taking over from our real-world opportunities to connect?
How is tech affecting our relationships?
It’s hard to deny; advancements in online communication have made us more connected than ever. Between email, social media and instant messaging, many of us won’t make it through the day without checking Whatsapp, Messanger, and our inbox multiple times.
It’s affected all aspects of our lives; work, education, and home. An easier and more convenient way to keep in contact with old friends and long-distance family members, it’s never been easier for us to chat face-to-face with the help of Facetime or Skype. More of us than ever are even turning to digital means to meeting our partners, with an estimated 50% of couples expected to have met online by 2031.
It sounds like the digital revolution has done wonders for our connectivity, right? Some experts are concerned that our reliance on technology is negatively impacting our relationships. On average, each of us checks our phone more than 28 times across the day (with some studies putting that number as high as 150 times a day for the millennials amongst us).
Are we letting our fear of missing out rule our actions in the moment, creating a barrier with our partner? Or is technology helping us strengthen relationships that may otherwise fall to the wayside in our busy lives? We share six ways technology may be impacting our relationships.
1. Online connections lead to more frequent, closer offline communications – according to one researcher from Rutgers University, online conversations could actually lead to more in-person interactions. Regular Facebook users have 9% more people they feel they can discuss important topics with or confide with compared to other internet users, while those who regularly reported using mobile phones and instant messaging also reported closer ties than those who do not.
2. Talking more online can help relationships last longer – however much we would like to, for any number of reasons, we can’t always meet up with friends in person. With the rise in technological advances, it’s never been easier to keep in contact with long-distance friends and family with jam-packed schedules. Our small interactions online – whether that’s through chatting directly, commenting on a friend’s post, or liking their latest pic, can help us to feel connected over a longer period of time.
3. Tech can cut into quality time together – spending quality alone time with your partner can be an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship. According to one study, nearly 70% of women feel that smartphones, computers or TV interferes with their relationship with their partner.
40% expressed feeling that their partner becomes distracted by the TV during conversations together, 35% reported their partners pull out their phone mid-conversation if they receive a notification, with 33% saying their partner doesn’t make it through a meal without pulling out their phone.
With one in four of us actively texting someone else whilst having a face-to-face conversation with our partner, it’s pretty clear that some of us can struggle to give our partners our full attention and stay present in the moment.
While we may not mean it to come across as such, by giving our attention to our phones, tablets, or TV, we prioritise what is happening elsewhere over our time with our partner. Research suggests that the more we feel technology is interfering in our romantic relationship, the lower we report our relationship satisfaction to be, and the more likely we are to experience depressive symptoms.
4. It can make us feel more isolated – internet addiction can make us feel more isolated. While many people report feeling closer connections and more of a community vibe from parts of the world wide web, others find it detracts from their real-world experiences, damaging or detracting from other relationships. When we start trying to substitute relationships with electronic connections, we can risk socially isolating ourselves further.
5. Miscommunications can be more frequent – it’s happened to all of us at one time or another. A poorly timed joke or missed inflexion, and something we had said off-hand or in jest has caused more upset than we may have realised. Without the presence of non-verbal communication to ease the way (body language, eye contact, even tone) what we mean to say and what we actually end up communication can become mixed up, potentially harming our relationships with those we care about.
6. We can forget to balance digital and physical interactions – catching up over email or keeping in contact via messenger is all well and good, but is it really a substitute for having a cuppa and a natter together? Or for getting out and building memories with the ones you love? Our digital connections may offer a greater quantity of time together, but what about the quality?
Conversations that take place over several days pinging messages back and forth can miss out on a whole host of underlying hints we may pick up on in person if our friend or loved one is having a tough time or could do with the emotional support we can only truly offer in person through a heart-to-heart, a huge, or supportive shoulder to try on.
Kids worry. Feeling anxious, having doubts, or being worried is pretty normal at any age. For those who are experiencing OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), they may feel unable to stop focusing on those feelings – no matter how much they want to – which can compel them to behave in certain ways.
Although OCD most commonly occurs for those over the age of 21, children as young as five have been diagnosed, with between 30-50% of adults with OCD reporting that their symptoms started before or during adolescence. OCD affects around 12 in every 1,000 people in the UK, from young children to adults of all genders, social and cultural backgrounds. Around 50% of diagnosed cases are considered severe, with individuals experiencing OCD for around 12 months on average according to OCD-UK.
While some people experiencing OCD may involve loved ones with their compulsions (this can be in the form of asking for help completing tasks, pushing for a parent to repeat or say a phrase in a specific way, or seeking reassurance), others may hide their rituals and compulsions out of fear of being judged.
If you are worried about a child, teen, or loved one, there are a number of signs you can keep an eye out for that can be indications that they may be experiencing OCD and could benefit from further help and support.
How common is OCD in children and teens?
OCD typically becomes more problematic and has a significant impact on the lives of adolescent men and women in their early 20s, with women more likely to experience the condition (75%). A type of anxiety disorder less commonly diagnosed in children, cases of kids as young as six have been reported. Charity OCD-UK report that around 25% of diagnosed cases start by the age of 14, with a gradual onset of symptoms typically occurring.
OCD can be more difficult to spot in children and teens. Younger children may struggle to express how they are feeling, while older children and teens may feel embarrassed, confused, or ashamed. This can make it trickier for parents and teachers to spot problems as they start to arise. Knowing what symptoms and signs to look out for specifically in children and teens can help us to recognise when additional help and support may be needed.
OCD rituals, compulsions, and signs to look out for
Obsession – unwanted or intrusive thoughts that are often distressing, repeatedly entering or playing on the person’s mind.
Anxiety – intense feelings of anxiety or distress, often brought about by obsessive, intrusive thoughts.
Compulsion – repeating actions or thoughts that they feel compelled to do, due to the anxiety and distress caused by obsessive thoughts.
Temporary relief – a short reprieve from completion of compulsive actions, followed by the return of anxiety and obsession, leading to the cycle beginning once again.
We all experience unwanted thoughts from time to time such as worrying we’ve forgotten to lock the door or didn’t remember to pack something in our bag, but it’s when that worry becomes persistent, dominates our way of thinking, or interrupts other thoughts that it can be a cause for concern.
In children and teens, the symptoms of OCD can present a little differently than in adults. More likely to experience just obsessions and compulsions rather than all four parts of the cycle, they may exhibit one symptom more prominently than the others according to leading behavioural care providers. As signs may not appear in equal measures, they may be overlooked or dismissed as ‘quirks’ or normal parts of childhood behaviour, when they could be an indication of OCD.
Many young people experience OCD for a period of time before parents or teachers realise, often only noticing if they are completing overt rituals, seem overly worried, or if they are told about the concerning thoughts by the child themselves.
Individual symptoms may not be a cause for concern, however, multiple symptoms over a prolonged period of time can be an indicator that a child may be experiencing OCD. Behaviours and indications to look out for can include:
At school, in clubs or extracurricular activities
Repetitive actions e.g. getting up from their chair multiple times in a set way, taking and replacing a book from a shelf or bag multiple times, arranging pens/crayons in a specific or ‘right’ order, touching or tapping things a set number of times or in a specific way.
Handwriting anxiety e.g. appearing worried about their writing being neat, erasing words or letters until they get them ‘right’, scribbling out pages that are ‘wrong’, tearing out pages with mistakes.
Avoiding interaction with other children or equipment whilst playing outside.
Frequent requests to use the toilet.
Counting or repeating steps e.g. repeating the same path to class three times before entering, counting the number of steps between the classroom and playground.
Expressing frustration, anger or upset when shifting between subjects.
Asking questions repeatedly or seeking reassurance that an answer is correct numerous times.
Seeming distracted, disengaged, or having trouble listening in class.
Fear of coming into contact with germs from common everyday objects or things in the outside world e.g. pets, wildlife, rubbish.
Expressing little or no interest in playing with new children or toys.
Hoarding or collecting high quantities of objects.
Spending an unusually long or excessive amount of time washing their hands or possessions, or frequently returning to the restroom to re-wash their hands.
Increased time completing everyday tasks such as getting dressed, finishing homework, showering, or packing for school.
Insisting a parent or loved one do or say things in an exact way.
Completing rituals or sharing worries or fears that making a mistake may cause bad things to happen. E.g. not counting to a certain number whilst completing a task may result in a loved one being injured or not checking the door a set number of times could lead to the house being broken in to.
Showing an unusual preoccupation with death or abstract concepts like good and evil.
An intense interest or obsession with a specific number e.g. they may prefer the number three, repeating actions in groups of three, retracing their steps three times, or cutting food into three equal pieces.
Difficulty making decisions or seeming indecisive.
For many, symptoms of OCD can change regularly or seem inconsistent. Some symptoms may increase or decrease in frequency and strength, depending on how stressed or tired they are feeling. While normal, this isn’t necessarily a sign that symptoms are lessening or they are getting better – it’s still important to seek help and advice from your GP or a qualified expert if you are concerned.
Help and support
If you are concerned about a young person, it’s important to seek help and support if OCD may be having a significant impact on their life. If you are worried about a child or teen, try talking to them about your concerns; it is unlikely that things will get better on their own without a formal diagnosis, treatment and support. Let them know that there are people who love and care about them, and are there to support and listen to them.
Speaking to their GP about symptoms can be one of the first steps towards getting a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). To find a qualified counsellor specialising in children’s mental health and OCD near you, use our advanced search.
We wouldn’t hesitate to talk to kids about their physical health. In our day-to-day lives, we teach kids more about living a healthier, more active lifestyle through food choices, picking up hobbies and clubs that focus on physical activity, and explaining how our actions and choices can impact our bodies physically. Why should it be any different when it comes to talking and teaching kids about mental health?
It’s easy to say that we should feel just as comfortable talking to children about mental health like we would physical health, but the truth of the matter is, it can still feel like a pretty daunting topic to bring up. Although the stigma around mental health has, in many ways, lessened over recent years, it can still be hard to know how much information children need, how much they will understand, and how much is too much.
Regardless of how much we want to protect them, the likelihood is, children are going to encounter their own struggles with mental health and well-being. Children’s charity Barnardos reported that almost half of all children aged 12-16 feel sad or anxious at least once a week, with an overwhelming 70% of 16-year-olds saying they felt this way once or more each week.
25% of children and teens reported feeling negative feelings daily, while 80% said they worried about the future. Talking about mental health doesn’t act like a ‘jinx’ – we aren’t making children more or less likely to encounter or experience it. We may, however, make them feel more comfortable and able to come to us to talk, start open discussions, and feel confident in speaking up when they feel or see something that concerns them.
By starting the conversation early, we can help young people get in the habit of having open, honest discussions in a relaxed setting. By talking about it, we begin normalising it. Mental health and mental illness shouldn’t be seen as ‘dirty words’ – they are part of our lives, and shouldn’t be treated as something ‘less than’ or ‘bad’.
We all have mental health, and many of us may struggle with ill mental health from time to time. By making sure they are not only prepared and know where they can turn if they need additional help, but also encouraging simple ways they can look after their well-being as part of their daily lives, we can make sure young people feel prepared and able to recognise potential problems in the future.
Explaining mental health to kids and teens
Use simple terms – talking to kids about mental health can be a good starting point to help them understand their emotions and become more resilient. Starting the conversation around emotions can be a simple starting point for younger children, as it can help them to understand and start naming how they are feeling (emotionally and physically), while introducing them to the connection between their emotional and physical feelings. For example, being tearful may leave them feeling tired; excitement may feel like butterflies in their tummy, or nerves may leave them feeling sick.
Make it part of daily conversations – you don’t need to set aside big, daunting blocks of time to talk about mental health. In the same way you’d talk about eating fruit and vegetables to keep their bodies healthy and strong, share ways kids can be mentally healthy. Things like practising mindfulness to help calm their thoughts, going to bed on time so they don’t feel tired, or cranky the next day, or talking about how everyone has felt each day over dinner can all help normalise mental health as part of your conversations.
Use positive language – how we speak, and the words we use to describe things can have a huge impact on how we (and those around us) view them. Teaching children kinder, more positive language to describe those who are mentally ill or behaving in unexpected ways can be a good first step.
Avoid using negative or offensive terms (such as saying you had a ‘crazy busy day’ or someone was ‘driving like a nutter’), as using this kind of negative language can help foster negative connotations around mental illness. Children may see mental illness as something embarrassing, wrong, to hide, or make fun of if they are frequently exposed to these kinds of attitudes and language choices, which can make them less likely to seek help if they need support in the future.
Make self-care a priority – self-care can encompass a lot of different things for different people, but research has shown that it can have a big impact on our sense of well-being. Encouraging kids to include regular physical activity as part of a healthy self-care routine can benefit both their physical and mental well-being.
Evidence has shown a link between physical activity and good mental well-being. Regular physical activity can help decrease symptoms of mild depression, as well as protect people against feelings of anxiety. Physical activity can positively change our moods, improve our sense of self-esteem and self-control. The NHS guidelines share the minimum amount of physical activity children aged five to 18 should undertake each week.
Introduce mindful moments to daily routines – mindfulness and mindful activities can help children to relax and refocus, whilst listing their mood, decreasing feelings of anxiety and stress, as well as distracting from negative thoughts. Practising mindfulness with children can not only increase their self and social awareness, but can positively impact their confidence.
Simple ways you can introduce mindfulness to children can include:
Mindful colouring – by focusing on a simple (or complex) pattern they can colour, it can help distract children from negative thought patterns, interrupt their focus on worries on past or future events. It can also give them time to just focus on a simple, repetitive, relaxing activity.
Mindful play – setting aside time for mindful play can be beneficial for both you and your child. Having dedicated time with the TV switched off, phones and tablets away and on silent, can give you the space to focus your full attention on them and what you are doing together during this time. This can also help encourage children to focus on what they are doing in the moment and fully immerse themselves in creative, imaginative play.
Mindful cooking – another positive activity you can do together can be introducing mindfulness whilst cooking together. Encourage your child to notice the colours, smells, tastes, and textures of ingredients as you cook, keeping them grounded in the moment and present throughout.
Where is just as important as when – picking the right time (and context) to talk about mental health can be just as important as what you are saying, and how you are saying it. Mental health isn’t just about feeling happy all of the time, and mental health problems are common. Keeping conversations small and informal can help.
Try chatting whilst walking around the park together, over dinner, or while playing a game. Keeping things hypothetical rather than direct can make some children feel more comfortable opening up; try talking about the experiences of a character from one of their favourite shows or books to get things started.
Signposting further support – sometimes, talking to those closest to us can seem like the hardest thing to do. What if they think less of us, or judge us for how we are feeling or what we are thinking? By letting kids know who else they can talk to, where they can turn, and helpful, reliable resources older children and teens can use, it can encourage children to seek out help and support when they are ready.
Just like we would encourage children to go to any adult they trust if they weren’t feeling well or were upset, we should encourage them to talk if something is bothering them or they are concerned about themselves or a friend.
We all feel anxious from time to time. It’s when that anxiety starts impacting our actions and day-to-day life that it can become a cause for concern. For many of us, feelings of stress and anxiety can come hand-in-hand. According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly 8.2 million of us experience anxiety in the UK, with an astonishing 74% of us feeling ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ due to stress over the past year.
With so many of us struggling with our anxiety and stress, it’s important to find small ways to introduce moments of calm into our days. While we would all love to make the time to read more about mindfulness and medication, research ways we can decrease our anxiety and start making big life changes, sometimes the key can be starting small. Apps can be a simple way to start developing healthy habits we can fit into our daily routines, have the security of having them in our pocket, and know we can take a quick peek if we are feeling particularly anxious or under pressure.
We share seven apps that can help combat feelings of anxiety and stress, and help you feel more relaxed and able to face the day.
Helping users to learn to tackle their stress and anxiety, as well as increase their focus, Headspace offers 10-minute meditation sessions tailored around different life areas (health, performance and relationships). One of the most popular wellbeing apps for both Android and iPhone, users can try a 10-day free trial before signing up for a monthly subscription.
Headspace helps users to reframe stress, discover mindfulness techniques and try guided meditation to feel more relaxed and in control. Bringing a touch of calm into your daily life, this app also offers sleep stories to help users who may experience insomnia or troubles getting to sleep. Through their mindfulness techniques, users can discover how to become less distracted and reactive, learning how to focus on the things that matter most to them.
Special ‘SOS’ sessions are also available within the app that can help users feeling intense moments of panic, anxiety or stress to feel more in control. iPhone users can also use Headspace in combination with the Apple Health app to track their mindful minutes each day.
The Worry Watch app allows users to document their worries, track outcomes, and rate whether their worry about what would happen was as bad as what actually happened.
Helping users to identify the causes of their worries (health, financial, or social situations), the Worry Watch also monitors emotional and behavioural responses.
Ranked as one of the best anxiety apps by Healthline in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019, Worry Watch is designed to help those experiencing chronic worry or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). as well as those who experience anticipatory anxiety.
Giving users a way to self-monitor and document their worries, it can help them to get a bigger picture of how their worries and anxiety change over time, as well as helping them to discover areas they may not realise are causing regular negative feelings. With space for users to track real situations, it can be a positive tool for self-monitoring and reflection, helping users to challenge their perceptions around what makes them feel anxious.
With over 1.9 million users, Pacifica offers mood and health tracking, mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tips that help users track their mental health.
Created for adults and teens with anxiety and mood disorders, Pacifica introduces core concepts around CBT (such as recognising and challenging biased thought patterns). It also teachers users simple deep breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindful meditation.
Allowing users to track their mood, anxiety and general health habits (from sleep patterns and eating, to exercise and alcohol intake), Pacifica encourages users to start making small, daily goals that can encourage problem-solving and create a sense of achievement.
Selected as one of GooglePlay’s Editor’s Choices and amongst the App Store’s Best of 2017 apps, Pacifica offers relaxation tips and guided self-help, as well as daily tools to help ease stress, anxiety, and depression.
Research suggests that mindful colouring (as with meditation and art therapy) can provide numerous benefits for those of all ages. Providing a much-needed break, the chance to relax and refocus, those who practise mindful colouring have reported a lift in their mood, as well as decreased feelings of stress and anxiety.
It is also suggested that mindful colouring encourages the forming of positive, relaxation-based coping mechanisms that can help us manage anxious thoughts and feelings, distract from negative thoughts, and interrupt our focus on worries about past and future events.
The Colour Therapy app provides detailed, carefully crafted illustrations users can colour in by tapping to instantly fill them with a single colour or colour freeform using on-screen pen tools.
The Acupressure app offers a beginners guide to acupressure. Some individuals have found that acupressure (applying pressure to key points on the body) can help manage symptoms of anxiety and stress. Offering illustrated guides for over 90 acupressure combinations, each targets a different problem or issue.
Remember: while some find acupressure to be a positive complementary therapy, it shouldn’t be used as an alternative or replacement. It is best used in conjunction with other medical or counselling help from experts for specific conditions or persistent issues. If in doubt, always speak to your GP before trying a complementary therapy.
If you are worried about how often you use your phone or check social media, Forest could be just the app for you. Designed to help users become more mindful of how often they use their phones, Forest can help you to cut your phone dependence whilst positively impacting the environment.
Aiming to decrease our dependence on our phones, users select a length of time (from 10 minutes to two hours) that they want to be productive and phone-free. They then plant a virtual tree that can only grow while your phone isn’t in active use (meaning no sneaky Facebook updates and no checking what’s trending on Twitter).
For each tree you successfully grow in the app, you are rewarded gold coins towards planting a tree in real life through Trees for the Future, which works with farming families in five African countries on reforestation and commercial cultivation. If the fear of missing out starts getting to you, by opening your phone and clicking out of the Forest app, you will receive several prompts to return or your seedling tree will die.
TalkLife creates a safe place to talk with other people who have or are experiencing, similar issues including feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety. A peer support network designed to help users to reach out and connect with others facing a wide range of struggles and issues, without the fear of feeling judged.
Clinically governed, TalkLife take safeguarding seriously. With strict no judgement and no bullying policies, to help create a safe space where users can talk, share and make friends, individuals can post anonymously seeking advice or with their username visible for others to see.