Common mental health conditions


ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People with ADHD might find it hard to concentrate or feel restless a lot of the time. No one really knows what causes ADHD but it tends to run in families. You can get help for ADHD and learn ways to manage how you feel and behave.


Anxiety is a feeling of worry or panic about something that might happen. Everyone gets these feelings from time to time but sometimes you might need extra help to deal with them.


A phobia is something in particular you feel very nervous or panicky about. It could be a fear of going outside or a fear of heights.


Autism spectrum disorder makes it hard for a person to deal with the world around them. If you have Autism you might find it difficult to get on with other people or find it hard to understand how they are feeling.

What is the autistic spectrum? All of us are unique so this means that our autism is also unique. The spectrum describes all the different ways that autism can affect you.


Depression can mean a number of symptoms including feeling sad for much of the time, feeling irritable or angry, sleep problems and thoughts about life not being worth living. Someone with depression may think there is little hope and be reluctant or unable to seek help.

How is it treated? Treatment for depression in young people is usually with talking therapy and sometimes medication can also help.

Eating disorders

Sometimes how we feel can change the way we eat or how much we eat.

  • Anorexia – fear of gaining weight. People feel overweight even when they have lost too much weight and are unwell.
  • Bulimia – eating large amounts of food and then being sick to get rid of the food. People might look normal but are doing lots of harm to their bodies.


Psychosis is a medical word that is used to describe hearing or seeing things that are not really there. This could be hearing voices or feeling like you are being watched.

Can you treat psychosis? Yes. Psychosis is treated with talking therapy and sometimes medication. If you or someone you know is having these symptoms then it is important to get help early.

Tourette’s and tics

Lots of people have tics like sniffing or grunting but sometimes a person has tics for longer and then the GP might diagnose this as Tourette’s.

What is a tic? A tic is a movement or a sound that you do not have control over. Some examples are blinking, clicking teeth or jerking arms. Most people start having fewer ticks when they are a teenager or adult.

Self harm

Self harm is when a young person chooses to hurt themselves in some way. If you are self-harming you might be cutting or burning yourself or overdosing on tablets. You might do it to punish yourself or relieve stress.

Is it serious? Yes it is very dangerous. If you or a friend is self-harming you need to ask for help immediately. Talk to someone you trust or your GP.

Want to know more about conditions? Please click here.

More information about self harm

What is self harm?

Self-harming is when someone chooses to inflict pain on themselves in some way. You may self-harm if you are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed or if you are being bullied and feel that you do not have a support network or way to deal with your problems. The issues ‘build up’to the point where you feel like you are going to explode. Young people who self-harm talk about the ‘release’ that they feel after they have self-harmed, using it as a mechanism to cope with their problems.

What are the symptoms?

If you are self-harming, you may be cutting or burning yourself, biting your nails excessively, developing an eating disorder or taking an overdose of tablets. It can also include taking drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol and is usually a sign that something is wrong.

How is it treated?

  • If you can talk to someone, this may help how you are feeling.
  • Talk to your GP about how you feel and any other issues you may have as well as the self-harm for example if you are being bullied or if you are feeling anxious or depressed it may be that tackling the underlying issues will help you to cope with problems without self-harming.

Self harm: limiting the damage is a leaflet designed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists

We do not recommend self-harm and would strongly urge people to always consider alternatives to self-harm first, such as talking about your feelings (if you can), distracting yourself, or trying safer alternatives. For ideas for alternatives to self-harm click here for a full list.

Please note that by its nature, this leaflet contains words that vividly describe injuries and overdoses. This leaflet has been provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.

To view the leaflet, please click here.