19. FOCUS ON YOU Issue 668 5 – 11 April 2019 FirstNews MENTAL HEALTH TALKING ANNA Williamson is a television presenter, radio broadcaster and trained counsellor. She is also an Ambassador for Childline and The Prince’s Trust. Here she tells us all about her new book, a mental health guide for children and teenagers. How Not To Lose It, Hi Anna! So, what’s your new book all about? It’s a book designed for 9 to 14-year-olds all about the issues and challenges that young people face. It talks about things like stress from exams, family relationships, friendships and puberty. It’s about the thoughts and feelings that come with those issues. Why do you think it’s so important for young people to look after their mental health? I think we’re all becoming a lot more aware of mental health, which is great. But there’s a whole lesson in the national curriculum dedicated to physical education – I think we should absolutely equally be putting the spotlight on mental health education too. It’s like anything – if we don’t learn about mental health, we don’t know about it and we don’t know how to prevent anything. The book is essentially a preventative tool looking at how you might be feeling and what you can do about it. You’ve spoken openly about suffering from anxiety yourself. What’s your best bit of advice for others? Talk about it and don’t minimalise it. Anxiety is very normal and it’s important that we recognise that anxiety is a normal functioning coping mechanism that we all have. It’s when it becomes out of control and when anxiety turns into something debilitating [taking away your strength] or life-limiting, which is what I experienced, that you need to do something. The main thing is to talk about it and to tell someone how you’re feeling. Often in the early instances, talking about it can rapidly reduce feelings of anxiety. Are there any good exercises to remember? Breathing is really key. Getting our breathing under control and keeping calm when we’re faced with anxiety is really important. I’M ESTHER RANTZEN, PRESIDENT OF CHILDLINE, WHICH HELPS THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN EVERY WEEK. IF YOU EVER NEED TO TALK, YOU CAN VISIT OR CALL THEM ON WWW.CHILDLINE.ORG.UK 0800 11 11.
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