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As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the College invited Old Eastbournian, social media influencer and mental health ambassador, Emily Warburton-Adams, to talk about her mental health journey and answer questions submitted by our pupils.

emily warburton adams shares her story during mental health awareness weekEmily was a pupil at both St Andrew’s Prep and Eastbourne College for much of her school life. In her teenage years she struggled with her mental health and now uses her experience and subsequent recovery journey to spread awareness and break the stigma surrounding these issues. After appearing on television series ‘Below Deck’, Emily gained a large social media following that has since grown to over 100,000 followers on Instagram @english_ems. She is now using her platform as an influencer to focus on mental health and sustainability while working with charities such as Head Talks and MQ Mental Health, as well as being co-founder of POW Food, a sustainable premium wellness catering service.

Emily featured on the College’s Instagram account during Mental Health Awareness Week by filming a video of her answering pupils’ questions, which was shared as a Story and then internally within the College community.

She stated:

I hope that you’re all enjoying being back at school and that the term is going well! I know it can be a rather demanding time and a period when it’s more important than ever to check in with yourself, keep a tab on your mental health and let someone know if anything is getting a bit much. Having been through exactly what you’re going through now not too long ago and having struggled myself with mental health conditions quite badly I believe that it is so important to help break the stigma and advocate sharing about mental health and helpful tools; which is one thing I use my social media platforms to do.

Emily’s answers

All of Emily’s answers have been checked by psychiatrist Dr Mark Silvert, who owns the Blue Tree Clinic in London, and are outlined below:

1. What are the first steps in getting a diagnosis for a mental health issue and how do you find the right therapist?

Go to see your doctor, parent, teacher or an adult you trust to refer you for a CAMHS assessment. 

(CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and you can get help and support for depression, problems with food, self-harm, abuse, violence or anger, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety, among other difficulties) and there are local NHS CAMHS services around the UK, with teams made up of nurses, therapists, psychologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists (medical doctors specialising in mental health), support workers and social workers, as well as other professionals.

In the assessment they will ask you questions to understand what you are struggling with and to get a better idea of what support you need. From here you can find out how long the wait will be for treatment and be able to discuss therapy options and what type of therapy is right for you. You can access NHS complimentary therapy or have a private therapist.

2. How would I know if I had an eating disorder?

(Leading from previous question) In the CAMHS assessment they will cover questions to help you establish if you have an eating disorder.

3. How can I help and support a friend suffering from anxiety and / or depression?

If you have a friend suffering from anxiety / depression it’s important to be empathetic and listen. Take them seriously and don’t discount their feelings. Help them find support and reach out to people on their behalf if they give consent.

4. What advice would you give to prevent and / or help a friend who might be self harming?

(Leading from previous question) If you hear that a friend is considering or has thoughts of self harming then help them get support, reach out to a teacher, nurse or carer on their behalf.

5. Studies show that throughout lockdown rates of suicidal thoughts in young adults have increased, what are your thoughts? And what advice would you give to someone struggling with these?

Suicidal thoughts having increased over lockdown is terrible and I can understand why this is the case as for many it’s been a very lonely, uncertain and stressful period. It will all get better and I would say to definitely reach out to someone for help and seek treatment as soon as you can if you have any negative feelings or thoughts.  

6. If you’re having an ‘off day’, what do you do to lift your low mood?

Everyone has off days and it’s horrible! Create a toolkit of things that you know can help shift the low mood or keep you stable. When you’re in a certain headspace it can be the last thing that you want to do but this is the time when it’s most important to act!

Suggestions and tools that I use that you could try and include:

  • Going for a walk or run to clear your head and release some endorphins.
  • Writing down three things you’re feeling and then three things you’re grateful for. This has an immediate effect! 
  • Call a friend and have a chat.
  • Listen to a song that makes you smile.
  • Hug someone or spend some time with a dog or other pet to release some oxytocin.

Checking in with yourself and others:

  • Ask yourself, and those close to you about how you / they’re feeling physically and mentally.
  • Check in with yourself about whether you’ve spoken about how you’re feeling with anyone.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Have you eaten well?
  • Is anything heavy on your mind that you need to write out or speak about? 
  • Have you had too much screen time, do you need a break from social media?
  • Have you been outside, had some fresh air and gone for a walk today?
  • Have you done anything that’s made you feel good today?
  • Is anything making you feel particularly stressed?

Some key non negotiables would be:

  • Writing down three gratitude points.
  • Going for a walk and getting some fresh air.
  • Drinking enough water.
  • Eating enough and making healthy choices.
  • Taking five minutes to breathe, meditate or close your eyes when you start to feel overwhelmed.

Emily Warburton-Adams Mental Health Talk

Also found on the College Instagram account.

We are so thankful to Emily for providing such an insightful talk for the Eastbourne College pupils, staff and wider community. The care and development of each pupil lies at the centre of College life, and this talk is part of our ongoing efforts to break the stigma surrounding mental health and open up the conversation.

useful links

 Young Minds guide to camhs

Find your nearest CAMHS clinic