Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Get a free Real Sport leisure pass

You can get a free Real Sport leisure pass giving you access to leisure centres in and out of London if you're:

  • aged 5 to 21 (24 if in higher education)
  • looked after by us or leaving our care.

It’s a great scheme so don’t miss out!

For more information or to get a Real Sport leisure pass, contact us on 020 7926 7084.

2. Your mental health

When we talk about 'mental health' we're talking about how we think, feel, act and how we are able to cope in general with life.

Everyone feels worried, sad or stressed about things, but its how we deal with this that tells us what our mental health is like.

Looking after our mental health is just as important as our physical health because it helps us to:

  • feel less stressed
  • be able to have good relationships with other people
  • make good choices in life.

At any time, all people can feel sad, angry, worried and frightened. Children and young people looked after can be more likely to feel this way because they may be:

  • missing their family
  • upset about the changes in their life
  • unhappy about where they are living or not being able to do the things they were used to.

What does a mental health illness mean then?

Everyone goes through being sad, stressed, angry, scared or worried at different times in their life.

If these feelings go on, say for more than a month, and if it gets really bad that you have trouble being able to cope with everyday life, this is what we would call having a mental illness or mental health problem.

Having a mental illness doesn't mean that you are mental or mad. Some of the mental health illnesses you may have heard of could be depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder.

Who gets mental health problems?

At any one time, almost one in every four people can have a mental health problem so it's more common than you think.

Depression can affect one in every three people at some point in their life. Some of the signs of depression in children and young people can include things like:

  • easily losing their temper
  • being angry and grumpy very often
  • having lots of aches and pains like headaches and stomach aches.

What causes mental illness?

Nobody really knows all the reasons why, but a mental health illness could be something that people are born with or because of what they have experienced in life or a mixture of both.

It could also be that some people find it harder than others to cope with stressful situations in life.

Just because people go through times of stress does not mean that they will go on to have a mental health problem, we just can't tell who will and who won't.

If life does get difficult for you, you can get the support you need so that there is less of a chance of getting a mental health problem.

What does this mean for me?

Children who are looked after tend to have a higher chance of feeling stressed or having mental health problems mainly because looked after children have usually been through a lot more stressful and difficult life events than other young people.

This doesn't mean though that every child looked after will go on to have a mental health problem.

If my parent has mental health problems will I get them too?

Just because your mum or dad has a mental health problem, the chances of you getting one is very low, even if you are feeling very stressed. Some people think that you can 'catch' a mental health illness but this is not true.

How do people get help for mental health problems?

People like psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health nurses work with people with mental health problems and help them to cope with their life better.

A GP or social worker usually gets a person who needs help with their mental health in touch with the right workers.

You may have heard of the word 'treatment' which is just a plan of how help will be given to a person who needs help with their mental health. Before this help can be given, workers will look at the person's life experiences and problems.

Many people that need help with their mental health find it useful to talk to a professional or they may need medication to help them get better. Sometimes they are given both.

Does everyone who sees a mental health worker have a mental illness?

Just because people see a mental health worker doesn't mean that they have a mental health problem.

The Children and Adolescent Looked After Service do work with children and young people who have a mental health problem, but most of the time, they see young people who are stressed and need some help in making sense of the difficult things that have happened in their lives.

3. Relationships and sexual health

When you're a young person, looking after your health is really important.

It's a new and exciting time when some young people will be having their first relationships, and some might have questions about peer pressure, sex, smoking, drugs or alcohol and the effect it can have on their lives and bodies.

It is also a time of great change on your body and emotions, which can be worrying, especially if you think you are the only one having these feelings.

We know that a good relationship is when you are happy and comfortable and can truly say that you are friends. Just because you may fancy someone or be going out with someone doesn't mean that you must start having sex. It could take you months or even years before you decide you want to take things further and this is perfectly fine.

Remember take it slow, talk a lot with your partner and most importantly listen to your feelings.

Top tips to stay safe, healthy and happy:

Remember:

  • before you go out make sure someone knows where you're going and what time you're due home
  • try to go out with friends you know and trust and agree to all look out for each other
  • try to get to know someone before you think about having sex. If you really like them, organise a second date, playing hard to get will make them fancy you more!
  • make sure you sort out your contraception before you become sexually active – remember that different types of contraception suit different people so talk to a healthcare professional to find out which type will suit you (see below for information about local sexual health services)
  • if you are thinking about having sex, stock up on condoms, carry them with you at all times and make sure you know how to use them! Remember that condoms are the best way to prevent getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • talk to your partner about using condoms before you get physical
  • if you do have sex, make sure that it is because you want to, not because you feel pressured, and always use a condom
  • never be afraid to say no to sex
  • if you had sex and did not use a condom you are at risk of getting a STI. If you are not on any type of contraception you are also at risk of getting pregnant. To avoid an unplanned pregnancy make sure you get emergency contraception from your local chemist, sexual health clinic or GP. This can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but is more effective the earlier it's taken
  • make sure you have a check up to see that you don't have any STIs. Even if you feel fine don't assume you are, a number of infections like chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and HIV often have no signs at all.

Where can I get condoms from?

You can join the Come Correct scheme and get condoms for free from various locations in Lambeth. Come Correct is confidential, which means they won't tell anyone about your visit and once you've met one of their trained advisors and registered, you'll be given a card so that you can pick up condoms every week, wherever you see the Come Correct logo.

You can also pick up condoms from sexual health clinics may be from your GP clinic too.

Reproductive and sexual health clinics

Reproductive and sexual health clinics provide a free and confidential service consisting of walk-ins (no appointment needed) and appointment sessions and offer a full range of sexual health services including:

  • pregnancy testing
  • STI testing
  • different types of contraception including long-acting and emergency contraception
  • advice on all sexual health issues
  • emotional and relationship support and advice.

Remember that staff at these clinics are fully trained and really friendly and will never judge you, they will just be really impressed that you are taking responsibility for your health. They never ask you embarrassing questions at reception or in front of other people and everything you say is completely confidential.

Find a sexual health clinic in Lambeth or visit the U choose online website.