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Opening up about your mental health – for 11-18 year olds

A guide for young people on opening up about how you're feeling or what you're experiencing.

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.

How do I open up about my mental health?

Talking to people who care about you can help you look after your mental health and cope with how you're feeling.

But it might feel scary, or you might not know where to start. You might feel nervous about telling people what's going on, or don't know what to say to them.

We're here to help you find a way that works best for you.

Preparing to open up about mental health

Getting ready to open up

Something that really helped was finding my 'tribe' and people who are interested in the same things that I am, look like me and talk like me – Sola, 18

Why should I open up about how I feel?

It's okay to feel worried about telling someone how you feel, or what you've been going through. But trying to deal with things on your own can make you feel worse.

Talking to someone you trust can help you to:

  • Feel like you're not alone
  • Feel supported by people around you
  • Help other people understand what you're going through
  • Get support with practical things
  • Find out that other people have been through similar things
  • Find support to help with how you're feeling or what you're experiencing
  • Stop things from getting worse
  • Start to feel better

You might not know what you're feeling or what you want to talk about, and that's okay. For information about how to recognise different feelings, see our page on understanding your feelings.

Opening up to myself was an important first step. Being honest with myself about my feelings and accepting those feelings as valid has allowed me to feel more comfortable about talking to others.

When should I open up about my mental health?

There's no perfect time to open up. You can open up about how you're feeling at any time – you don't have to wait for it to get worse. The sooner you can open up, the sooner you might start to feel better. And it’s never too late to talk about how you feel.

You might want to think about opening up about your feelings or what you're experiencing if you:

  • Are struggling to cope with how you feel
  • Have been through or are going through something difficult
  • Are not feeling yourself
  • Are finding it hard to cope with everyday life
  • Want someone to know how you've been feeling
  • Find that it's affecting your relationships
  • Feel you want or need help

Whatever you're going through, you don't need to cope on your own. We all deserve support.

If you feel like you want to open up about your mental health, we have advice to help you plan what you want to say.

Your feelings will be muddled and you might feel lonely or sad... It's important not to bottle things up because by speaking to others, they can help you to fix the problem – Bear, 12

How do I know who I can trust?

Deciding who to talk to can be hard. Try to think of someone you know who:

  • Is kind, understanding and a good listener
  • You feel safe around
  • Might have gone through a similar experience
  • Will be open to what you have to say
  • You feel comfortable talking to
  • Has supported you or other people before

I have a friend who I opened up to, and even though they could not relate to my experience, they were still there for me and listened to me.

Who could I talk to about my mental health?

You don't just have to talk to family, carers, guardians, friends or partners about how you're feeling. You might find it easier to talk to someone you don't know, or aren't as close to. Other people that can help might be:

  • Teachers
  • Staff at school, like school counsellors, nurses, pastoral leads or teaching assistants
  • Your doctor
  • Youth club workers
  • Sports coaches
  • Social workers
  • Religious leaders or people from your faith group

If someone doesn't understand, or is unsure how to help you, you can try opening up to someone else. Everyone reacts differently and it's not your fault if they don't understand.

If you're in a slump then just go out and talk to people because it makes you feel much, much better – Eilidh, 13

What if they tell someone what I've told them?

After opening up to someone about your mental health, it's normal to want them to keep what you've said private. But they might need to tell someone else if they:

  • Are worried about you and need to let someone else know. They might want to tell your parent, carer, guardian, teacher or doctor to make sure you are safe.
  • Want to help you find support. This support could come from your doctor or a service like Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
  • Need support for themselves. They might need some extra help to cope with what you've told them.

It might help to explain why you don't want others to find out. Ask them to let you know if they plan to tell anyone else.

When is information about my mental health kept private?

Visit our page on confidentiality

Asking someone to keep a secret

It can put a lot of pressure on someone if you ask them to promise not to tell anyone, or keep what you've told them a secret.

If they're worried about you and aren't sure what they should do, it's important to remember that they might also need to talk to someone they trust.

What if they don't understand?

Sometimes we don't get the reaction we want when we talk to others about how we're feeling.

If they don't understand or don't take you seriously, it's not your fault. It could be that they just need time to think about what you've told them.

If you feel hurt, it might help to try talking to someone else you trust, or giving them time before trying again. Or you could try a different way of telling them, like:

  • Writing a letter
  • Sending a message
  • Leaving a voice note

If they still don't understand, it might help to say "you might not understand why I feel the way I do, but I need you to accept it and help me by... ". It might help to be direct about what you need from them.

It is so important to choose the right people to reach out to. People who will hold space for your emotions, rather than dismiss or negate them – Lao, 18

Different understandings of mental health

Many things can affect how we understand and talk about mental health. For example, our personal experiences, our culture, religion, or the views of people around us.

Sometimes, people in our community might feel differently about mental health than we do. Or they might understand it in a different way from us. This can make it harder to talk about how we're feeling.

It's not your job to teach people around you about mental health, but you might want to give them more information to help them understand. It might help to share our information on understanding mental health.

Although it is not my job to educate people, I have found that some people are more likely to understand what I'm saying if I provide them with some facts or resources related to the issue.


Remember: we all react differently to different things.

It can be hard to open up again when people don't understand, but it's important you get support for how you're feeling.

What if I don't have anyone to talk to?

You might feel like you can't talk to anyone about what's going on, or they just don't understand. There are many other ways you can find support for yourself, but it could help to try talking to:

  • Childline. Runs a 24-hour helpline with counsellors trained to listen and support you. Also offers online message boards and 1-2-1 web chat for children and young people. Childline can also provide Welsh-speaking counsellors.
  • The Mix. Offers a webchat and email helpline, crisis textline, 1-2-1 online chat and video, webchat or phone counselling service for anyone needing support.
  • YoungMinds. Provides a crisis text messenger service and online message boards. Also offers information about mental health problems.
  • Other organisations that can help you with specific experiences. You can find these in our list of useful contacts.

It can feel like no one understands how you're feeling or what you're experiencing, but there is always someone who can help and support you.

Whatever you're going through, you're not alone and you deserve support.

Sharing how I was feeling was the best decision I made.

Stay safe

If you feel overwhelmed, or like you want to hurt yourself, support is available for you to talk things through. You deserve help as soon as you need it.

To talk with someone confidentially about how you feel, you can:

If you feel like you may attempt suicide, or you have seriously hurt yourself, this is an emergency. You can:

  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
  • Tell an adult you trust and ask them to call 999 for help.

Mental health emergencies are serious. You aren't wasting anyone's time.

This information was published in January 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

The quotes on this page are from young people we spoke to while making this information. They've given us their consent to use their quotes in our information. The words, experiences and opinions in the quotes are not related to the young people shown in any of the photographs we use.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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