YOUNG people in Somerset can now access new resources to improve their mental health and well-being.

LifeHacks is an online resource created by young people for young people, containing tips and useful suggestions about how individuals can improve their mental health.

It was created by dozens of young people coming together to discuss how mental health issues impacted on them, and is designed to convey advice in a way which is accessible and relatable.

The LifeHacks website was officially launched at Somerset County Council’s Taunton headquarters on Monday afternoon (August 13).

The project forms part of the council’s Children and Young People’s Plan, an ongoing strategy designed to improve the health and well-being of young people across the county.

Louise Finnis, the council’s mental health promotion manager, said that around 70 young people had been involved in the consultation process which resulted in LifeHacks.

She said: “The advice that young people get about physical health or sexual health is very clear, but this was not the case with mental health.

“The young people wanted something that was good for themselves and which would show them how to support their friends.

“Mental health is not something we have, it is something we do.”

National Youth Parliament members Hanna Wittek and Micha Soulsby were two of the young people who were involved in the consultation process.

Speaking after the launch event, Micha said: “We were brought together this time around to review it, change what we thought needed changing, and update for the situation that young people find themselves in.

“I think young people are a lot more open about their mental health struggles and thing they’re going through, even if there is still a big of a stigma.”

Hanna added: “We’ve also made small business cards, which have the LifeHacks in them, so people can read them discretely.

“They can take it away from their classroom – it’s really easy to read, with quick easy notes. They can put it in their purse, in their wallet, in their phone even – people might judge them for reading a massive poster in the middle of the hallway.”

Here are the ten tips for better mental health which are being promoted in the LifeHacks resources:

  • Be kind to yourself: “It’s so important not to be too hard on yourself and to be your own best friend. Remember, if you wouldn’t say it to or about your best friend, then don’t say it about yourself. Having a negative internal voice can really bring you down.”
  • Do activities you enjoy: “Finding time to do activities that you enjoy such as art, poetry or sport, can really help you get more out of life and think less about your problems. Doing these activities is not time-wasting, as they are an important part of keeping your life in balance.”
  • Find someone to talk to about how you feel: “There’s no right or wrong way to talk about our mental health. Sometimes different words, rather than no words can express mental health, but it is important that we all try and talk much more freely about it. Young people who have experienced mental health problems themselves say the most important thing they did in their recovery was talking to other people and sharing how they felt. It helped them to realise they weren’t alone, and that there are lots of sources of help out there.”
  • Do E.A.S.Y things to make you feel good: “Take the E.A.S.Y. route to improving your mental health. Eat healthily, be Active – exercise boosts your mood – get plenty of Sleep, and try Yoga or mindfulness for relaxation.”
  • Spend time with your friends: “Being face-to-face with the right people that genuinely care about you can really help you feel good. Just being with trusted supportive friends and spending time hanging out, talking and laughing can make a huge difference to how you feel. Avoid people that make you feel bad about yourself and make sure you spend time offline when you need it.”
  • Keep a journal or blog: “Keeping track of how you’re feeling can be really helpful. Having a notebook, diary, journal or mood book can help you understand how you’re feeling as time passes. Maybe there’s a pattern to how you feel? Is it certain times of the week or month? Is it to do with people that you’re spending time with? Is it caused by something that’s happening at school or college?”
  • Look at the bigger picture: “Don’t be defined by the mental health struggle that you’re experiencing now. Be defined by the person you are, not how you feel. If it won’t matter in a year, it’s not worth worrying about so much now.”
  • Learn more about mental health: “Be informed: there’s lots of really useful information out there. Avoid trying to diagnose yourself, but you could look up tips to help you manage specific issues you might be experiencing.”
  • Stick to a daily routine: “Eat a healthy meal at regular intervals. Going for a short walk in the fresh air can really help. If there’s a routine you find harder to stick to, give yourself a reward when you do it. Maybe a bubble bath at the end of the day is your way of being kind to yourself.”
  • Ask for help: “Asking for help is always a good idea. There are lots of well-trained, trusted adults that can help and advise you. Getting things off of your chest can improve how you are feeling. If you don’t ask for help you could worry all the time and it will keep going round in your head.”

Each of the tips is accompanied by an anonymous case study, which are all drawn from the real experiences of young people in Somerset.

Somerset County Gazette: SUPPORTIVE: County cllr Leigh Redman. PIC: Daniel Mumby

SUPPORTIVE: County cllr Leigh Redman. PIC: Daniel Mumby

The revamped resources have been welcomed by Councillor Leigh Redman, who chairs the council’s children and families scrutiny committee and is also its young people’s champion.

He said: “One of the hardest that we have is trying to get young people to accept the fact that it’s okay to talk about the way that they’re feeling.

“LifeHacks give them the opportunity to talk about it – the opportunity for them to recognise with themselves, and to recognise it with their friends.

“It’s so hard to get people to fully understand the importance of talking about mental health. Everyone has mental health, and what this is going to do is to help young people recognise there is good and bad – and if it’s bad, it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person.

“Young people are very often forgotten about, and as councillors, as adults, we very often have a conversation about young people rather than including them. It’s my job to bring young people into the conversations.

“A young person’s mental health and life is important, and we need to consider that in everything we do.”

For more information on LifeHacks and how to get support for mental health issues, visit