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This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, this year’s theme is ‘My Voice Matters’. My Voice Matters is about empowering children and young people by providing them with the tools they need to express themselves.
Today I am sharing a blog post written by a care leaver in my team. Benita wanted to share how self-care can support young people’s mental health and to offer advice on how to build self-care into their lives. I would like to thank Benita for writing it.
Benita’s blog post deals with mental health issues that may be emotionally challenging, if you need support, we have included links at the bottom of the post.

“Self-care is defined as the act of establishing behaviours to look after oneself, it promotes your mental health and is something I now practise regularly.

Growing up, self-care was something I wished I had done more of. It would have helped me deal with my depression or day-to-day struggles.

I have only recently begun to practice self-care; I did not really care about myself growing up or take time for myself because I was consumed with all that was going on around me.

As I spoke about in my previous blog post ‘Living with depression: A care leavers journey’, when I was younger, I had poor mental health which has improved but is still something that I am conscious of. I used to have days when I did not go out or do anything other than mope around.

At the time, I was not concerned with self-care because I had no idea of the impact that it would have on me. I would constantly think about my past, and I would tear myself down mentally.

I was able to overcome all of that through counselling.

My counsellor always advised me to take care of myself and focus on my needs first. I began to realise how crucial it is to love yourself, because if you do not love yourself then how can you expect others to do so.

It was having a clear mind that eventually helped me develop my self-esteem and confidence. I was able to not worry about the little things that were bothering me, I was able to believe in myself as a person, and just feel great about myself.

Some of the things I do for self-care are visiting a spa, exercising regularly, participating in a relaxing activity, keeping a journal, taking trips etc. It helps me to do some of these with a friend and some of them on my own.

Taking time for yourself is beneficial for your mental well-being and it is therapeutic. By dedicating time and energy to improving our personal quality of life, we send a powerful message to ourselves that we are worthy of love, care, and attention. Wellness practices contribute to the creation of a positive image and the development of compassion in individuals.

Have a think about things you could do as part of your self-care routine and find a few things that work for you.

You could go for long walks, read a book, focus on skincare routines such as face masks, read inspirational quotes, practice yoga, stretch, go to the gym, light a candle, listen to your favourite music, go for a coffee and cook.

You could also take a moment to write five things you are grateful for, write about your life in a journal, create a vision board for this year, go for a drive, practice mindful meditation, or simply sit and watch the sunset. Sometimes turning your phone off or taking a break from social media can serve as a great way to take time for yourself without any distractions.

Through these tips, I have become more confident in myself and have come to value my worth. At least once a week, I try to devote some time to myself.

Hopefully my suggestions can be helpful and remember to take things one day at a time!

If you need support for your mental health, you can contact Shout which provides 24/7 urgent mental health support: by texting SHOUT to 85258, you can also find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline in England via this link. If you are under 19 you can also contact Childline which offers a free and confidential service: by calling 0800 1111.
Benita previously shared personal blog posts with us, describing her experiences leaving foster care, ‘My journey to independence: A care leaver’s journey’ and her experience of mental health Living with depression: A care leavers journey.

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