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Adolescence is often referred to as “a time of change” and these changes are both physical and psychological and they are probably the most profound changes anyone will experience throughout his or her entire lifetime.


The words or phrases that appear in red in the text means that you can find more information about them in this section of the website.


As is often the case throughout life, the more change and upheaval we experience, the more likely we are to become stressed. Therefore, it is little wonder that adolescence is a time of increased stress for many. This may come from a variety of sources such as home, school or work and include a number of factors such as bullying, sex and finding a job, amongst others.


Adolescence is also the time during which mental health problems may begin to develop or emerge for a number of people. These problems can be seen as both a possible response to increased stress levels and also a possible cause of further stress for the sufferer and those close to them. These problems can range from an individual feeling low and worried to more serious problems such as panic attacks.


Outlined below are some common causes of stress in adolescence, and also some mental health issues that can occur quite frequently. In each section you will find some brief information, links to more detailed information about the subject and contact details for local and national organisations and other sources of help available.



Causes of Stress


There are many aspects of adolescence that can cause you stress. Your body changes rapidly and so does your view of the world around you. You may begin to view people, situations and yourself in a new light.


Some people take all this change in their stride and adapt quite easily to the transition of adolescence. Others might need more help, or may have additional causes of stress.


Click on the link below to find out more information about stress.





Abuse can take a number of different forms. It may be physical, emotional, result from neglect or be sexual. Girls are more likely to be abused, but abuse of boys happens too.

All types of abuse can be emotionally devastating for victims regardless of their age, gender or culture. It is important if you are being abused in any way or know anybody that is that you approach an adult, such as a teacher or trusted relative, as quickly as possible. The person you tell will be able to help you contact the police or Social Services, if the person you tell does not believe you it is important that you do not give up. You could try informing the police directly with the assistance of a friend.




Alcohol and Drugs

As young people enter adolescence it is necessary that they will begin to experience adult situations. Some of these situations may involve the consumption or use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. For some individuals these experiences may occur very rarely and never develop beyond an “experimental” stage, however for others, use of these substances may quickly become excessive and cause, or be a symptom of, a mental health disorder.

If you feel you have a substance misuse problem, or know someone who does, you may be able to access help from a number of sources, listed below, or alternatively you can contact your GP or school nurse or counsellor in confidence.







A death of a friend or relative can be a difficult at any time during life, but added onto to the stresses of adolescence it can be a particularly painful experience and result in a range of emotions such as anger, sadness and depression. In most cases people find they can cope with the support networks they already have in place through their family and friends, however others may need more support and will find the following sources of information and organisations useful.





Unfortunately, bullying is an all too common phenomena and may take the form of physical violence, emotional torment such as name calling, and exclusion from activities and conversations. It is very hurtful for the victim or victims and can leave those affected feeling upset and isolated. It can result in a lot of unnecessary stress and may even lead to mental health issues.


It is important that if you are being bullied in any way, or if you know somebody who is, that you tell an adult you know and trust. You may also find the following links useful.








Statistics show us that a large minority of all marriages end in divorce, and therefore a large number of children will see their parents divorce or separate.


When this happens it is not only the married couple who are affected, but also any children they have. If your parents divorce or separate you will probably initially feel quite shocked if they have successfully managed to hide any difficulties they have been having away from you. After this though there may be a number of other things you need to deal with: such as making a decision who to live with, facing the possibility of moving house – which may involve moving school or moving away from friends, and dealing with all the other emotions you may experience, such as guilt, anger, a feeling of abandonment and a sense of loss or grief for the way your family used to be.


If you are in this situation and are finding it difficult to cope, the following links may be useful.






Exams are a stressful time for most people. It feels as though the success of your whole life depends upon them, and that is a pretty scary prospect. If you would like more information on how to cope during this stressful time then you may find the following links on coping with exam stress useful.





Finding a job or education course


So, you made it through your exams, you waited for the results, you’ve relaxed a little and recovered from the stress, but now what?


For many people the next stage is to find a job or secure themselves a place on a further education course, if they have not already done so.


If you would like more help in this area you may find the following links useful.


Mental Health Issues

Anxiety is a feeling of fear and worries, which is a natural respose to experiences that are new, frightening or uncertain. Everyone feels anxious at times but some children and young people worry more than others and have greater difficulty coping with the inevitable challenges and uncertainty of growing up.

It is often hard for children, especially young children, to find words to describe their feelings, and anxiety may be expressed in their behaviour. For example, they may be afraid of the dark or of going to sleep, they may be clingy, restless or fussy and find it hard to cope with separating from their parents and settling down at school.  Older children and young people may experience panic attacks, palpitations, fear of leaving home and high stress levels.

For more information about anxiety check out the fact sheet below:





Depression is a common mental health problem that occurs if your feelings of sadness and low mood persist for a few weeks. A young person who is depressed may have low spirits, feel inadequate, be downcast and stressed, feel guilty or responsible and worried or lonely. Depression can also show itself in other ways, for example, self harm, substance misuse, eating disorders and even bullying.  In its extreme form it can lead to suicide attempts. If you think you may be depressed it is very important to tell someone you trust and get help from your doctor.


For more information about depression follow the link to:


Eating problems

Eating problems are particularly common among teenage girls, but an increasing number of boys are suffering from them as well.

Many of us will be unhappy with our body size or shape at some point in our lives and will try to change it. This isn't necessarily going to be a problem unless eating patterns become unhealthy, or worries about body size and eating become a constant preoccupation.

Things such as worry or stress can cause eating problems. People who feel under pressure may lose their appetite or may turn to food for comfort and eat even when they are not at all hungry. In some cases there may be more serious underlying disorders.

For more information about eating problems click on:




Parents with mental health problems
Many children will grow up with a parent who will experience a problem with their mental health. This can be very worrying for children who may not understand what is happening. Click on the link below for more information about advice and support for children with parents with a mental health problem.



Self-injury is a way of dealing with very difficult feelings that build up inside. People deal with these feelings in various ways. Here are some examples:

Cutting or burning themselves, bruising themselves, taking an overdose of tablets, pulling hair, or picking skin.

Some people think that the seriousness of the problem can be measured by how bad the injury is. This is not the case - people who hurt themselves a bit can be feeling just as bad as people who hurt themselves a lot.

Self-injury can affect anyone. It is a lot more common than people think. Many people hurt themselves secretly for a long time before finding the courage to tell someone.

Everyone has problems in their lives and often people look for help. But sometimes it's hard to cope or even to put feelings into words. If they get bottled up inside, the pressure goes up and up until they feel like they might explode. This is the point where some people injure themselves.





Changing Minds, Mobile X3 Park Campus, University of Northampton, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 6AL