Appetite changes

A larger or smaller appetite than usual and/or eating significantly more or less than usual may indicate that they are struggling with their mental health. These may be easy to spot, or they may be hidden by changed behaviours.
■    Refusal to eat in public places, or in the school canteen
■    Avoiding meal times
■    Hoarding food
■    Sudden change in eating habits or maybe adopting a strict or extreme diet.


Any signs of self-harm should be taken seriously and treated sensitively. This is often very secretive behaviour and it can be difficult to spot, but some signs to look out for are:
■    Unexplained scars, fresh cuts, scratches or bruises
■    Interfering with the healing of wounds, picking and scratching
■    Wearing long sleeves, trousers or thick tights, even in hot weather
■    Unusually frequent accidents resulting in injury.

Sleep difficulties

Difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep and waking up very early may indicate low mood or anxiety, as may dramatic changes to sleep patterns.
■    Are they sleeping a lot less or a lot longer than usual?
■    Do they sleep enough but always seem tired?
■    Do they have trouble falling asleep or frequently wake in the middle of the night?
■    Are they having frequent nightmares?


It is important to stress again, that this list is by no means exhaustive or definitive. Neither do the signs above mean that a young person is definitely struggling with their mental health, but these are common indicators that someone might be facing difficulties of some kind.

If you are worried about a young person, the best thing to do is to talk to them about your concerns. We know this isn’t always easy so you can read more about how to start the conversation here.