Mental health and poetry

Here at Young Poets Network, we want everyone to be happy and healthy – but we know that everybody goes through periods of difficulty and mental ill health.

Here are a few ways that you can support yourself, and seek help, when your mental health is getting worse, or if you are experiencing abuse or neglect.

Useful organisations

We’ve collected together a few organisations that can help support you. This is a non-exhaustive list and these organisations are mostly UK-based, but can be a good way to get started on finding the support you need.


If you are feeling overwhelmed by the news, check out this article by Young Minds to help combat your anxiety, and this article by Mind which offers tips for everyone, and especially for those stuck at home or self-isolating.

More about mental health

  • Young Minds and Mind both offer support and information about a variety of different issues and mental illnesses, as well as signposting where you can get urgent help.
  • Anxiety UK gives information and support specifically about anxiety.
  • BEAT is the UK’s leading charity supporting people with eating disorders, as well as their family and friends.
  • Papyrus offers support to those experiencing suicidal thoughts, and to their loved ones.

Support for your situation

  • Stonewall offer information and support for LGBT+ communities, including advice for coming out, and dealing with discrimination and hate crime.
  • NSPCC offer support on identifying and dealing with child abuse.
  • Relate offers advice, relationship counselling and other support for relationships.
  • Carers UK support anyone caring for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction can’t cope without their support.


  • Abuse is anything that another person does that’s meant to cause harm. It can be hard to tell what abuse is, or what to do about it. If you think you, or someone you know, is experiencing abuse or has experienced it in the past, tell a trusted adult or contact Childline / 0800 1111. There are lots of different ways to receive support, from accessing free counselling to creating safety plans. The first step is to confide in someone you trust.

Someone to talk to

  • Childline is a free, private and confidential service where you can talk about anything. Whatever your worry, whenever you need help, they’re here for you online, on the phone, anytime.
  • Switchboard is the confidential LGBT+ helpline. They are trans and non-binary friendly, and all their volunteers self-define as LGBT+.
  • Samaritans will listen to you in confidence no matter what you’re going through. Call 116 123 for free to speak to someone, or email for a response within 24 hours.
  • SHOUT is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. Text Shout to 85258.

Support in my area

How can poetry help?

Many young people tell us that writing poetry helps them to put their feelings into words and to process their emotions. Some people use writing as a form of escapism or mindfulness. Working on the craft of a poem can help some people to feel some control over a situation, or gain a new perspective. Reading poems written by other people which reflect our own experiences can also help us feel less alone.

On your poetry journey, remember that your wellbeing is always the most important thing. If you ever feel pressured into exploring a difficult experience or emotion when you don’t feel comfortable to, know that it’s okay to take a step back. Be careful when sharing personal experiences in a public space. You might want to change private details like names and dates to protect yourself. If something feels too raw to share, it’s okay to put it away for a few months – or not to share it at all, if you don’t want to.

Quick tips

Here are our quick tips to look after your mental health:

  1. Be self-aware. We all know that certain things upset us (such as staying up too late, exams or arguing with our friends), and certain things that make us happy (such as going for a walk, calling a friend or writing). How would you describe yourself when you are mentally healthy, and mentally unwell? You could try keeping a mood diary to monitor your feelings. Being self-aware will help you spot patterns and more quickly pick up on signs that your mental health might be worsening.
  2. What helps you feel better? Make a list of ten things (at least!). They can be very simple, such as hanging out with friends, playing your favourite sport, having a bath, cooking a delicious meal, drawing, writing poetry… Keep these to hand and try and make sure you do them when you’re feeling down.
  3. Talk about mental health. Check in with how your friends are, and ask for help when you need it. You can also talk about your mental health with a trusted adult, school nurse or GP, or reach out to free, confidential services such as Childline on 0800 1111 or Samaritans on 116 123/
  4. Stay hopeful. It’s very common to experience periods of mental ill health, but remember that you won’t feel this way forever. According to MHFA England, up to 90% of young people recover from depression within the first year of treatment. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll get better.