Explains what self-esteem is, practical tips for improving your self-esteem, and advice on where you can go for support.
Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It's based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can sometimes feel really difficult to change.
Your self-esteem can affect whether you:
"For me, building self-esteem was [about] learning what self-esteem was in the first place. It was unlearning what I had learned about myself ... I went back to self-school and learned all about me."
The things that affect our self-esteem differ for everyone. Your self-esteem might change suddenly, or you might have had low self-esteem for a while – which might make it hard to recognise how you feel and make changes.
Difficult or stressful life experiences can often be a factor, such as:
You might have had some of these experiences, and you might also have had difficulties that aren't listed here. Or there might not be one particular cause.
"My self esteem has almost disappeared.... I don't know how to interact with people anymore and find it hard to enjoy the things that I like."
Whatever has affected your self-esteem, it's important to remember that you have the right to feel good about who you are. It might feel as if changing things will be difficult, but there are lots of things you can try to improve things bit by bit – see our tips to improve your self-esteem for some suggestions.
Having low self-esteem isn't a mental health problem in itself, but they are closely linked. If lots of things affect your self-esteem for a long time, this might lead to mental health problems (for example depression or anxiety).
Some of the experiences of low self-esteem can be signs of a mental health problem, particularly if they last for a long time or affect your day-to-day life. For example:
Having a mental health problem can also cause you to have low self-esteem, and it might feel harder to cope or take steps to improve your self-esteem.
Watch Nathan, Hannah, Helen, Rishi and Georgina talk about their experiences of low self-esteem, including how it feels, what's helped them and how their friends and family can help.
This information was published in January 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.