Healthy living is not an adult midlife crisis issue but starts when we are born through to old age. Good health in adolescence and young people (10-24yrs old) is central to wellbeing and the bedrock for good health in later life, as the consequences of poor health in adolescence last a lifetime.
The brain develops up to the age of 25. Therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help develop your brain’s full potential. Whereas, smoking, alcohol and drugs will reduce your brain’s development. See this Brainstorm website for an interesting film by young people in partnership with neuroscientists from University College London explaining some brain development issues from their perspective.
Adolescent sleep is important because it might be both a cause and the result of health problems. Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur to help you grow and develop. If you sleep too little it can result accidents, acne, fatigue and stress, depression and anxiety, and obesity. Make sure you get at least 9 hours sleep per night. Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep. Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep.
Mental health problems including depression and anxiety can occur to anyone. 1 in 10 young people experience mental health problems so you are not alone. Share yours and other’s experiences on Health Talk.
Things that can help keep you mentally well include:
- Being in good physical health
- Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
- Having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
- Being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
- Going to a school that looks after the well-being of all its pupils
- Taking part in local activities for young people.
- Mental Health Foundation
- Time to change
- Young minds
- Counselling for 14-18 year olds
Everyone gets stressed during exams but it’s important not to let it get out of control. Check out the common signs of stress and the best ways to chill yourself out:
- How to cope with exam stress – Mind
- Exam stress – Childline
- Beat exam stress – NHS
- Surviving exams – NHS
Young people’s nutrition is important for growing and developing your body. Make sure you have your “5-a-day” and do regular exercise.
MEND (Mind, exercise, nutrition, do-it)
MEND is for 7-13 year olds. A programme that uses fun techniques to help children above their ideal weight, and their parents, learn about food and discover fun ways to get fit.
For more information and advice see our Weight Management page.
Cervical cancer vaccination
All girls aged 12 to 13 are offered HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine protects against cervical cancer.
For more information see NHS.
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK.
It’s passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex (sex without a condom). Most people who have Chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms, and so don’t know they have it. Research suggests that 50% of men and 70-80% of women don’t get symptoms at all with a Chlamydia infection. Symptoms of Chlamydia could be pain when you urinate (pee), unusual discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum or, in women, bleeding between periods or after sex.
If you are under 25 years old you can get a free and confidential Chlamydia test as part of the National Chlamydia screening Programme. Just ask at reception for a FREE Chlamydia test kit.
For more information visit this website.
Young Merton – Information for young people
For information about support for healthy living in Merton we recommend you follow this link to the Young Merton website which has up-to-date information on Keeping Safe and Healthy.