Mental health… we all have it.

Did you know that as a result of bullying, 44% had felt depressed and 41% felt socially anxious? The relationship between bullying and mental health is clear, but societally we tend to talk more about looking after our physical health as opposed to looking after our mental health, too.

In this piece, we are going to look at some really simple things that you can do to maintain positive mental health. In doing these things regular and often, you’ll be able to reduce stress levels and the chances of developing a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety.

Before we start though, if you suspect you are suffering from a mental health ailment and haven’t already spoken about it, we recommend you talk to your doctor, a family member or somebody from a charity like Mind.

Firstly, it’s important to know that we all have mental health, just in the same way as physical health. We’re taught from an early age by the movies we watch and media to consume to be afraid of mental health, but it really isn’t anything to ever be afraid of.

Think about how often you see an advert for products that are designed to boost your physical health – yoghurt, juices, gym membership, the list is endless. Now compare that to things that are promoted to boost your mental health. There’s no comparison.

We want to show you some really simple, and mostly free things that you can do to enhance your mental health.

1) Combat Stress

Stress is an evolutionary thing – we’re programmed to get stressed for a short period of time to help get ourselves out of a dangerous situation. Back in the olden days, stress was used to encourage a fight or flight response from people if they were being chased by a predator. Now, in the present day – stress is all around us, but it isn’t good or healthy to feel stressed over long periods of time so it is super important to develop your own ways of coping with stress. We’ve developed a really simple to use tool, called Stress Reprogramming, to help you combat stress. Click here to use it.

2) Watch What You Eat

It really is true. You are what you eat. If you’re eating microwave meals all the time, you’re going to feel pretty pants about yourself. Where possible, up your intake of fresh fruit, veg and grains and reduce the amount of unhealthy processed foods in your diet and refined sugars. Switch the fizzy drinks for water and herbal teas and limit yourself to occasional treats. Not only does this improve your physical health, but it will improve your mental health too. Our food affects the ways in which we feel about ourselves, so fill your body with good quality ingredients.

3) Learn to Be Alone

How many times a day do you check, YouTube, Facebook or Instagram? How many texts a day do you think you send? It’s pretty much constant, right? Sometimes it’s good to just be alone and to get rid of all that stimuli. Sometimes you need to be alone. Not to be lonely, but to enjoy your free time being yourself.

4) Exercise More

When you work out, it releases endorphins. By working out, we don’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym. It could be a jog around the block or a walk through the woods. Anything that gets your body moving. If you’re a stranger to exercise, start small and work your way up. Some people prefer to be alone, others prefer to work out with a buddy. Find what works for you and stick to it.

abby-lee-miller-dance-moms-yes-face

5) Meditate

Right now, your brain is processing thousands of different stimuli every second, without you even being conscious of most of it. Our brains aren’t really built for the 21st century. Sure, they can help us escape a predator in the middle of a jungle, but they can get overwhelmed sometimes with the number of stimuli being processed. Meditation is all about silencing your inner voice, enabling you to tap into your subconscious. It is estimated that people first started to meditate in the 3rd century. We recommend meditating several times a week. If you’re a beginner, there are loads of guided meditations to try on YouTube. Give it a try and approach it with an open mind. Hate to also break it to you, but your body won’t physically float and you don’t have to sit cross-legged making humming sounds.

6) Find Something You Love

Different things work for different people. Find the things that you love by trying new experiences and creating positive habits. When you’re doing something you enjoy, your mental health benefits and your stress levels decrease. We find the most happiness when we are in the ‘flow’ of doing something we are passionate about. Your something could be anything from playing the guitar, baking or going to a theme park. It’s good to have exciting things to look forward to, especially if you’re going through a stressful time such as exam season or a breakup.

7) Talk About It

Finally, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of talking. When you’re going through a tough time, the issues often appear bigger inside your head than they actually are. It can be so helpful to speak to someone about the stuff that is stressing you out or making you unhappy. It simplifies it and also gives people an opportunity to advise you on something.

There you have it, 7 really simple and straight-forward ways to maintain positive mental health.

*If you are having suicidal thoughts/considering suicide please seek help immediately: There are a number of helplines that you can contact 24-7/365.

  • In the UK, call the Samaritans on 116 123. 
  • In the USA, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Change can suck, right? Sometimes it feels like you are just getting into the swing of life, finding your rhythm and your tribe, and then something comes around that could change everything forever. We know that that feeling can be pretty scary, and that change is not something that everyone can deal with easily. That’s why we have put together a super quick guide to getting comfortable with it. 

1) Remember that change is natural 

Ok, so maybe this isn’t exactly what you want to hear, but change is always going to happen. It is a natural, normal and unavoidable part of being a human. We grow, we learn, we move around the planet. All of those things make staying in one place without changing pretty much impossible. Knowing that resisting change is fighting a losing battle might not seem particularly helpful right now, but coming to terms with that is a huge step towards looking at change as something positive. 

2) Think how far you’ve come already

The fact that you are where you are right now has come about through change, and it must be a pretty good place if you want to stay there. A good way to understand that change is part of life, and that it can lead to good things, is to map out your life so far. Think about where you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. Chances are in that time, there has been a lot of changes in your life that didn’t end up so bad, loads that probably made your life pretty epic, if only for a while. 

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3) Allow yourself to be not ok for a bit…  

If you need to freak out about it, give yourself the space and time to do so. Why not try setting a time limit on yourself, and say you are allowed to let your mind run away with itself about the change that’s coming for no more than 30 minutes. Then, afterwards, sit down and start to rationalise. This way, you give yourself the space to feel what you need to feel about it, but it doesn’t get out of hand. 

4) …Then face it head on 

You might have had your mini freak out about the changes that are coming, but now is the time to understand it and face it head on. Take a moment to calm down, clear your mind and ground yourself by trying to control your breathing. 

Sitting upright in a chair, place both feet flat on the floor and arm resting comfortably by your side or on your knees. Close your eyes, and let out a long breath. Then, feeling your chest rise, breathe in for five seconds through your nose. Hold it for one, and let it out for another four. Repeat this until you feel your thoughts begin to slow and you feel calmer.  

Now, have a think about the changes that are coming and keep breathing in slowly and deeply. Now you’ve had this chance to freak out and process it, try to carry on with your day as normal. There is no reason to have to deal with it straight away, or all at once. In fact, processing it a little at a time might help you understand it, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the scariest thing in the world. 

5) Change your thoughts

If you are still feeling anxious about changes that are around the corner, have a think about the possible outcomes of it, and how these might make your life better. So, if what is making your brain run wild is the prospect of moving out of home to go to uni, try thinking logically about it in a positive way. So;

‘I am worried about leaving my family’ could be ‘I get a chance to explore a new city’

‘I don’t want to leave my boyfriend/girlfriend/partner’ could be ‘I will get to meet lots of new people and it might make the relationship stronger’

‘I don’t know if I can handle the workload’ could be ‘I will be challenged, and I will be proud of what I do because of this’

We know that change can be unsettling. If you feel like you need to talk about what is going with you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you. 

Two friends share a hug.

So this week is Loneliness Awareness Week. Even though it might seem like we’ve all got hundreds of friends and followers on social media, it is still really common to feel alone, or have friends or family who are dealing with it. Thanks to keeping social media in our pockets, it’s super easy to connect and communicate with others, but this can mean that when your phone isn’t buzzing, you find yourself spending a lot of time alone. We’ve put together seven of our best tips to help you out if you find yourself feeling like you’re on your own.

1) Social Media Isn’t Real

Yes, looking at social media, you would not be wrong in thinking that anyone with an Instagram page is having the best time ever, and has the best family ever, the best holiday ever, the best breakfast ever; even the best dog ever. But remember, you are only seeing what people want you to see. You actually have no idea what is really going on behind the screen.

Just because someone has 10,000 followers does not mean they have 10,000 friends. We are all guilty of ‘hyping’ up our lives on social media, so we should know that our profiles are not a wholly accurate representation of our reality. Don’t compare your life, and friendships, to something that is just not realistic or attainable. Comparison is the thief of all happiness.

2) Remember your worth

If you’ve been feeling lonely for quite a while then it’s understandable that you might start to feel unwanted and/or unworthy of other people’s company. This can lead to you seeing social occasions as further opportunity for rejection. You may start to shut yourself off from people as a consequence because you don’t believe your presence will be missed or worthwhile. But always remember, if you have been invited, it’s because your company is wanted! You are deserving of all the love and kindness people have to offer you so accept the invitation, get out there and enjoy yourself!

3) Start something you enjoy

Good friends often have much in common. Find something you enjoy doing and you’re sure to meet some like-minded people. Sporty? Go to an exercise class or join a run club/gym. Arty? Go to a life drawing class or attend an exhibition! Music fan? Get down to your local venue and support some up-and-coming bands! You could even volunteer your time somewhere. Make the effort to introduce yourself and you’ll meet a whole new bunch of people.

4) Compliment yourself

Are you self-doubting? You may have let your insecurities get the better of you, and this might be preventing you from putting yourself out there socially. Try acknowledging one positive thing about yourself a day, as a gradual reminder that you are perfect just the way you are and do not need to change for anyone!

5) Do not settle for bad friends

You may be craving company but don’t give your time to people who do not value or deserve it; you can still feel lonely in the company of others. Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at NYU, noted: “Reams of published research show that it’s the quality, not the quantity of social interaction, that best predicts loneliness.” Ditch the frenemies – you don’t need them!

6) You are not alone in your loneliness

You are definitely not the only one out there feeling lonely. Despite the fact we live in an era where the internet has made communication as simple as a message away, it seems we are lonelier than ever before. With this in mind, don’t be embarrassed to make the first move if you want to reconnect or re-establish relationships with old friends. Missing someone? Text or call them and they’ll more than likely be glad to hear from you.

7) Embrace ‘me’ time

‘I’m gonna be my own best friend‘ – listen to the wise words of Beyonce and learn to enjoy spending time with YOU. When no one is available to hang out, chill with yourself! It can be really revitalising to spend time alone. Take a bath, watch a film, read a book, listen to music, reorganise your playlists! Try to make a list of things you’d love to do when you’ve got a spare minute so that you can always be busy instead of bored. Your own company is just as good as anybody else’s and it’ll prove to you that you’re a great person to be around.

Maybe you feel lonely, but always remember that you’re definitely not alone. For more inspiration, be sure to follow our Instagram @Ditchthelabel.

If you’d like somebody to talk to or get personal advice about how to overcome your loneliness, then you can join our community here.

Did you know that up to 3 in 10 relationships could be considered abusive? Is yours one of them?

Are you in a healthy relationship? Find out with our 10 signs.

1. You aren’t afraid to say what you think.

Being able to speak your mind in front of your partner without fearing their reaction is incredibly important. Respecting each other’s opinions – even if they differ – means that you will minimise time spent arguing. If you can share and discuss with one another the good, the bad and the ugly, then you know you can truly be yourself in each other’s company.

2. You have your own space.

As Kahlil Gibran once said of relationships: “Stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Giving yourselves the opportunity to grow individually as people will only help you grow together as a couple. Checking up on one another constantly or needing to be in each other’s company every second of the day might be a sign that you are lacking trust in the relationship…

3. You trust each other.

This is probably the most important factor in any healthy relationship. Trust is the foundation which any successful relationship is built upon and it takes time to earn. If you trust one another, then you are able to give each other freedom without awakening the green-eyed monster that lies within, you are able to be vulnerable in their company because you know that instead of judging you, they will be there to support you.

4. You compromise.

There are ups and downs in any relationship, romantic or platonic. You are not always going to agree on the same things and there will be times where you will need to compromise; if you can meet in the middle then you know you are both mindful of each other’s needs and your shared desire to make the relationship work far outweighs any need for personal gratification.

5. There is common ground.

As important as it is to have your own sense of identity and set of interests, it is also vital that you and your partner share common ground. Having a mutual love of something creates a bond and means that you can simultaneously take pleasure from the same thing, rather than having to ‘endure’ your partner’s hobbies, passions or lifestyle.

6. You let things go.

Rather than cause an argument or hurt each other’s feelings, you both choose to let things slide. This does not mean that you are pushovers however, it just means you don’t make mountains out of molehills. Life’s too short. Even Rose let go in the end.

7. You get along more than you argue.

Fighting is an inevitable part of being in a relationship, but it should by no means be a regular occurrence. If you find that time spent arguing is more than, or equal to the time you spend enjoying each other’s company, you might want to consider whether you are well matched.

8. You support and encourage each other’s ambitions and passions.

You may not find one another’s endeavours interesting or appealing but you would never dampen each other’s enthusiasm by saying so. Instead you support and encourage each other’s pursuits and are not threatened by the possibility of either one of you achieving success.

9. You are accepting of each other’s pasts.

Everyone has one. Rather than continually delving into each other’s pasts or getting jealous of each other’s exes, you have acknowledged what went before and appreciate that it has shaped you both into the people you are today.

10. You regularly make the effort to show each other you love one another.

And not a grandiose way. It’s the little, everyday things that you both do to show each other you care.

Join our Support Community to discuss relationships with like-minded people.

run away from home

Over 140,000 young people are reported missing each year. Here are just some of the reasons why somebody may think about running away from home.

If any of them sound familiar to how you’ve been feeling recently, it’s important that you talk to someone about it. Whilst running away might seem like a good idea at the time, you can often be putting yourself in danger.

Bullying

The famous rhyme is a lie – it doesn’t take a genius to work that one out! Sometimes, words can hurt as much as sticks and stones. When people tell us things about ourselves enough times, we can start to believe it. People who bully are usually going through a really bad time themselves and no matter what they say, it is NEVER your own fault. Even if they are targeting a unique factor about you. Remember, you have done nothing wrong and do not need to change anything about yourself.

Things might feel so bad that you just want to take off and not look back but before you think about running away, try talking to someone you trust and tell them what you’re going through. If you’re being bullied there is help available. You can talk to a digital mentor by joining our Support Community today or check out this article to help you take the first steps…

Being unhappy at home

Whether you live with family, friends, a partner, on your own or in care, home is meant to be a place where you feel safe and happy. When things get hard at home, it can feel tempting to think about getting away from it all by physically removing yourself from the situation.

It might be that you want to leave to get away from someone who is making you miserable or hurting you. There are loads of reasons for being unhappy at home. Written down, some look more serious than others, but the fact is, you’re unhappy and that is making you think about running away. Even small issues can build up over time to become massive. Remember that running away is very rarely a good solution.

Being hurt, abused or threatened

If you are being hurt or threatened, then it makes sense that you want to get out of where it’s happening. It could be that at first, you thought this person or people cared about you, but the bottom line is they should not be hurting you.

Calling the police is a good option, but if you feel you can’t talk to them, you need to tell someone you trust such as a teacher, friend, family member or social worker. Runaway Helpline can also help you. If you’ve already run away and feel you can’t make contact with the police directly, they can help you by being on the line when you talk to them. We know that bringing this out into the open takes a lot of courage but you are not alone, you deserve to be safe and there are people who will work hard to support you until you are.

Coming Out

Let’s face it, coming out about your sexuality or gender identity can be hard. Lots of people recognise that being gay or transgender is totally fine and does not change who you are as a person. Unfortunately, despite all the progress that has been made, there are still people who won’t think this. They may react in a way that you don’t like, which can hurt, especially if it’s a friend or family member.

Being in a situation where you don’t feel accepted can make you feel as if you don’t belong there and might make you want to leave. If you’re in this situation, help is available from people who care. The first step is to talk to someone you trust such as a family member or friend. Not everybody has someone they can talk to about this stuff, so you can talk to the digital mentors at Ditch the Label who will help you through this chapter in your life.

Not feeling listened to or cared about

There’s nothing worse than being made to feel like you’re invisible. Someone experiencing this at home might want to run away because they think no one will notice or even care. Well, however, you might be feeling right now, you matter.

It can be easier said than done but try not to bottle everything up and think that no one cares. Keeping something inside can make things worse and being able to speak with someone about your feelings and your concerns can help ease the situation. If you can’t speak to anyone at home about it, try a teacher at school or another adult that you trust. Of course, you can always speak to us at Ditch the Label too!


Get help

When we talk about “talking”, we don’t necessarily mean you need to actually say the words. There are services that can help by text, email and IM. Most are confidential and you could start by saying a little bit about how you’re feeling whilst knowing you can end the call at any time if you feel uncomfortable, then when you’re ready, you can call back.

It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about running away, are already away from home or back from being away. Runaway Helpline is a free, 24/7 confidential helpline that you can contact by call or text on 116 000 or by email on [email protected], you can also speak with someone online via IM here.

Runaway Helpline have a bunch of online advice too which you can read at your own pace, check out their advice section here.

The Dos and Dont’s:

In our research, we found that almost half of us have experienced bullying at one point or another. Given what a high number of people that is, it is still very common to be on the receiving end of advice that although means well, isn’t always very helpful.

We also know that an alarmingly high number of us never report it and suffer in silence instead. If a friend or loved one does decide to open up to you and share what they are going through, sometimes it is hard to know how to appropriately respond.

With this mind we have compiled a list of things to avoid saying to them, as well as a helpful alternative:

1. Don’t say: ‘Ignore it’

This old chestnut can be very damaging. Being told to ignore something that is causing you stress and anxiety is not helpful. Ignoring the bullying unsurprisingly doesn’t actually work and saying something like this might stop them from sharing anything else in the future. This could have a serious effect on their mental health and lead to things such as depression, and more extreme outcomes.

Do say: ‘Let’s talk about it’

This is a way more helpful and compassionate response. Feeling like your voice is being heard is extremely important as it makes us feel less alone. It also lets us know that someone cares and is interested in what’s going on in our life, without looking to fix or dismiss the problem.


2. Don’t say: ‘It’s just a part of growing up’

Whilst experiencing bullying growing up is all too common, it does not mean you have to accept it as a rite of passage. Saying this also offers no advice on how to deal with the problem at hand.

Do say: ‘What’s been going on?’

This question gives the person the opportunity to talk honestly and openly if they wish to get what’s bothering them off of their chest.


3. Don’t say: ‘Stop being so sensitive’

This piece of advice is particularly harmful. It implies it is their reaction to the bullying that is the problem, and that if they were less ‘sensitive’ the issue would magically disappear. This is not the case. You also might embarrass them by referring to their reaction to the situation as ‘sensitive’ as it implies they are overreacting. This might stop them speaking up and seeking help in the future.

Do say: ‘It ok to feel upset/angry’ etc

You need to reassure them that whatever they are feeling is perfectly normal and natural. Try and make them understand that there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings – all we really need to do is acknowledge them.


4. Don’t say: ‘Just stand up for yourself’

As a piece of advice, this doesn’t work for a few reasons. It can make the person feel powerless as they might not feel able to stand up for themselves or know how to go about standing up themselves. They might also be fearful of the consequences.

Do say: “I’m here for you, what do you want to do about it?”

This lets the person know you care and that you want to help them through this tough situation and most importantly, it is not their fault.


5. Don’t say: ‘Fight back’

Bullying isn’t always something you can meet with force as it can very easily spiral out of control. Often reacting in an aggressive manner can make the situation worse and can put them at risk of physical harm. If they feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, maybe encourage them to try talking to the person who is doing the bullying.

Remind them to challenge the behaviour, not the person – so instead of accusing the person of being a ‘bully’, explain why their actions or words are causing distress.

For example, instead of saying “you’re upsetting me”, they could say “what you said/did has upset me”. It might be appropriate to suggest that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between them. A mediation can feel scary for those involved but is often incredibly powerful; it is essentially a face-to-face conversation between the person who is being bullied and the person doing the bullying in a controlled, equal environment.

Do say: ‘How can we deal with this together?’

Understandably it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are being attacked and therefore they might feel like they are facing the problem alone, with no one they can depend on for support.

Your friendship could make all the difference to them right now. Spend time with them, make sure they know they are not alone and try to do things that will boost their self-esteem and confidence. It’s important that they still look after their health and maintain a good diet, exercise and things like meditation and yoga. It is also important that you remember to look after yourself as well and don’t take too much on.

what to say to someone who is being bullied

6. Don’t say: ‘Just avoid them’

By saying this, you are minimising and undermining the problem. It is also not realistic to think that these situations can be easily avoided. It is better to acknowledge what is happening and try to think of ways to combat or resolve the bullying.

Do say: ‘You don’t deserve to be treated like this’

Remind them that they deserve to be treated with respect. Often people who are bullied can feel like a ‘victim’ but it’s important that they don’t disempower themselves and let the bullying dictate who they are. They need to find ways to regain control, confidence and self-esteem – we have a great guide on how you can rebuild your self-esteem here.

Remind them as often as you can that they are worthy, in control and that things will get better. Head to our blog to read stories of how people have overcome similar situations and gone on to do great things, it will help reassure them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


7. Don’t say: ‘Telling someone will just make it worse, so don’t bother’

Almost 1 in 2 young people who experience bullying never tell anybody for this very reason. A mixture of embarrassment, fear and a lack of faith in the current support systems stops people reaching out. Please don’t encourage someone to suffer in silence.

Do say: ‘Talk to someone you trust.’

It can feel exposing and uncomfortable talking about our experiences of being bullied, that’s why talking to someone we trust can make a difference.  

It is important they share with someone what they are going through – they shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining to endure bullying.

This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental well-being, ability to communicate with others, performance in school/work, self-esteem and confidence.

It is therefore incredibly important that they tell somebody they trust about what they are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during a traumatic time, that they have a support system and people who they can rely on when they are feeling low, or unable to cope.

Join the community to talk to digital mentors or other people who are going through bullying – you do not need to go through it alone anymore… 

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is a criminal offence. It is an act of hatred or aggression directed at a specific person, group or their property. It is motivated by hostility or prejudice against:

  • A personal characteristic
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Faith

This may involve bullying, physical assault, verbal abuse and/or insults, damage to property, threatening behaviour, robbery, harassment, offensive letters (hate mail) or graffiti and inciting others to commit hate crimes. The legal consequences for perpetrators can be serious and range from a fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Why Report Hate Crime?

Reporting hate crime is important because it provides a platform from which action can be taken against perpetrators and for the abuse to stop. It can often lead to vital support for the victim and it can also benefit wider society by creating safer public areas.

Hate crime can go unreported for many reasons including:

  • Many people do not know that they can report this kind of abuse
  • People do not know how to report it
  • Some people have reservations or fears around approaching the police or authority figures

An increase in reporting will:

  • Provide more accurate statistics which leads to better services within the justice system and improves how hate crimes are responded to
  • Challenge attitudes and behaviours that endorse hatred towards anyone perceived as ‘different’
  • Encourage early intervention to prevent situations escalating
  • Increase confidence for victims in coming forward to seek support and justice
  • Ensure that the right support is available for those that need it
american, cop, car

How to report Hate Crime

In an emergency, ALWAYS dial 999 or 112 – All calls are free and will be answered by trained operators. If you are in immediate danger, or to report a crime in progress, dial 999 or 112 as above.

Other ways to contact the police:

  • Dial 101 to report non-urgent crimes or to make an enquiry
  • Call in at a police station. You can search by postcode via: http://www.police.uk
  • In incidents where the victim of a hate crime does not wish to approach the police directly there may be a police liaison officer for their region, or a Community Safety Partnership Department. Call 101 for further advice on this.
  • Reporting hate crime online: http://report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
  • Understandably it can sometimes be very difficult to report an incident alone. If you do not have a friend or family member to accompany you, help with reporting via voluntary and other agencies can be found here: http://www.report-it.org.uk/organisations_that_can_help
  • You can also report hate crime anonymously via Crimestoppers here: 0800 555 111 / https://crimestoppers-uk.org

Always tell someone if you have been the victim of a hate crime. You can speak to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label who can help you in dealing with this. Join the community today.

Don’t get us wrong, the internet can be a beautiful place – but sometimes, some people aren’t always who they say they are. It could be someone you’ve met in an MMORPG, through Instagram comments or a ‘friend of a friend’ on Twitter, you just never know.

Calling Catfish – How to Spot a Fake…

We got our heads together to share our top tips for debunking a catfish. Various things motivate people who catfish. Mostly, it’s because they are desperately trying to hide who they actually are or they might have self-esteem and confidence issues.

So if it’s all sounding a little bit fishy, and you’re wondering ‘Am I being Catfished?”… you probably are! Here are some things we advise you look out to keep yourself safe:

  • Do a reverse image Google search. This is a quick and easy background check. Right-click their photos, copy the URL, and paste in the box at images.google.com. Google will then search for other sources of that image online. If nothing is found, try a few photos and see what crops up. Don’t forget that Instagram images aren’t indexed so Google won’t be able to search them. If you’re talking on an app like Tinder or Grindr, there’s an app you can download that does the same job called Veracity.
  • Google it. There’s a lot to be said for Googling names other than your own. See if you can find any credible information about them. If there’s nothing, that should raise alarm bells.
  • Language. We all make silly spelling mistakes (especially when autocorrect is involved), but if they’re making strange grammar and odd spelling mistakes continuously, (that would drive your primary school English teacher cray-zay) proceed with caution.
  • Money. Lending a fiver to your best mate for lunch is one thing, but if your new online ‘buddy’ is already asking you for money to get their car fixed so they can come and visit you, whilst promising to pay you back ‘later’. Let’s be honest, they won’t (you’re not a bank).
  • Check their check-ins. Everyone should have some sort of indication on their Facebook or Instagram profile that they have a life outside their computer. We’ve all checked in somewhere on Facebook with friends or family, be it that time you went to Barcelona, or just your local Pizza Express. If they’re lagging in the check in’s then be warned they probably spent all their time on the internet fishing around.
  • …and their posts. Everyone gets a post from someone every now and then, even if it’s from your great aunty sharing a funny meme. If no one has posted on their wall to wish them a happy birthday, tagged them in a photo on Instagram or shared anything with them, then this has got to be a cause for concern.
  • …and their photos. There’s nothing wrong with having photos of yourself on your profile (it is your profile after all), but if they don’t have any photos with their friends or family and it’s mostly photos of themselves at weird angles with bad lighting, then something’s up; are they even tagged in other friends’ photos? If not, something fishy’s going on…
  • … and their mates. Do you have any mutual friends? If so, can they vouch for them? If they only have a handful of random contacts with no mutual friends, it’s usually a telltale sign of a fish in our midst…
  • Get real. If it seems too good to be true – it probably is (sorry to be bursting the bubble). Watch out, if it’s all getting a bit too serious, too soon and they’re making obscure promises, get the hint. They aren’t going to fly you to the Caribbean and David Beckham most definitely doesn’t send random people friend requests. Sorry, move on.
  • Got the story straight? Make sure everything they’re telling you adds up (trust your gut instinct). Conflicting information is a sign their whole identity is built on lies, so it’s hard to always keep the story straight. Remember, fish only have three-second memories, it’s easy to let something slip by when you’ve constructed an entire web of lies…
  • Skype ‘em. If they don’t want to Skype, Facetime or even Snapchat, this is a big red flag. Catfishes are often very camera shy. It’s an easy excuse to spot because they are hiding their true identity, so beware.
  • Watch out for elaborate stories e.g., lies. Catfishes tell outrageous lies which are often a dead give-a-way. A Catfish may well claim to be a model, be in a job that makes them travel to extravagant locations or work in the music industry. This will create little niggling doubts in your mind, listen to them!

Ultimately, if you’re doubting it – you’re most likely right. But before you go join the FBI as a detective, none of the above methods are fool-proof. They can, however, give you a good indication as to how credible somebody is.

If you are going to meet up with someone online, we would strongly recommend that you do it in a public place like the shopping Mall. Always arrange to meet in the daytime and always tale somebody with you or at least have a mate nearby on standby. Most importantly, never go without telling an adult first.

What’s more, we’d also advise against sexting someone you’ve never met before. Trust us… we hear a lot of horror stories from people who have been talking to someone they thought they knew….

But wait… There’s more…


What to do if you’ve called Catfish?

So, you’ve called it. Nothing adds up and their photos are looking increasingly fishy…

  • Try talking to them: You could try and reason with them to encourage them to axe the pretence and to come out as themselves.
  • Axe it: We’d recommend blocking them from all of your social media and phone.
  • Report it: It’s actually a criminal offence to Catfish. It’s impersonation and fraudulent and people can get into a lot of trouble for it, especially if they have bad intentions. Report their profiles to social networks, even if it’s just to look out for somebody else. If it’s really serious, report it to the Police.
  • Tell an adult: If you’re scared of getting into trouble, it could be somebody who you don’t know – like a Ditch the Label mentor or somebody over at Childline. It’s important to document it. Join the Community to talk to someone.
  • Mutual mates?: If you know other people on the Catfish’s friends list. Tell them. They have a right to know too.

Sometimes it happens, but we learn from our mistakes and move on. If you need any further advice or have questions and need support, please do get in touch on the Ditch the Label Community – we’ve got your back.

Join the Community.

Ever been scrolling through IG and quickly found yourself 56 weeks deep in someone else’s Instagram, feeling like they have it all? Yeah, us too. It’s pretty normal to compare yourself to social media from time to time, and we all do it most of the time without even realising it. The thing is, if you let it happen too often, it can have a pretty negative impact on your mental health. That’s why we’ve put this list together of things you can do to stop it. 

Aren’t sure if you compare yourself all that much? Take our quiz to find out here! 

Know Yourself 

It might sound stupid, but knowing what you have a tendency to compare yourself to is the first step to trying to stop it. Is it other people getting more likes than you? Is it body image, or lifestyle? Knowing what makes you feel bad when you get on social media can be hard, so try to make a note on your phone every time you scroll through something that bums you out, and then take a look at it, and clear out your social media of these things. It might be a bit of a big cull, but if it makes you feel better it will be worth it.

Take a break every now and again 

Taking a little holiday from the ‘gram is not necessarily a bad thing. You might have seen social media personalities saying it’s for a multitude of reasons, but the fact is you don’t even need one. If you have pals or followers who might worry about you if you don’t post, put out a little PSA and say that you are putting the phone away for a few days or even a week. The best way to stick to it is to make a long list of stuff you’ve always wanted to get done, and work your way through it over the course of your break. Planning your holiday? Done. Selling stuff on Depop? Make that cash. Reading those books you bought years ago and never got round to? Be a professor for a while.

Or have set times to spend on social media 

It might seem obvious to say but comparing yourself to social media happens a lot more if you are on social media a lot. So give yourself a window or two a day to be online and check out what’s going on in the world, and after you’ve spent your set time on there, put your phone down and do something else. Again, we know it sounds obvious, but it’s something that really helps.

Be aware of what you are using it for

What are you using social media for? Is it to catch up with friends? Is it to document how adorable your dog is? Is it to follow brands and organisations that you love? Whatever it is, make your social media space functional. That way, you won’t be constantly comparing yourself to people you’ve never met for no reason other than the fact that you are bored and happen to follow them. 

And bring it back to being about your own journey 

Whatever you are posting, if you are posting it to make others think your life is going amazingly well when maybe it isn’t, that’s a sure fire way to compare yourself to others. Instead of posting photos of events that you didn’t enjoy, or things you don’t own, or adventures you haven’t had, make your feed about your real life. Put the bad stuff in, and make it real. The more of us who make social media an honest space, the less compare and despair we will all feel. 

Aren’t sure if you compare yourself all that much? Take our quiz to find out here! 

So it seems like we are all going to be stuck inside for more than a little while this Spring. Sure, it can be easy to get really bummed out about that fact, especially when it is a perfectly natural human instinct to want to see friends and spend time with the people we love. The thing is, right now it’s really much better for everyone if we don’t do this. 

So, we want to bring you a list of things that you can do that would mean spending time inside alone does not have to be crap. Keeping busy is crucial to helping you get through all this downtime, and will help keep your mental health in check during a time when it could get difficult to see the good side of life. Instead, you can be super productive, or really chill, and make the time go faster so we can all get back to a place where we can all be together again. 

  1. Get organised and clear stuff out
  2. The take photos of it all to put on Depop once this is all over
  3. Make a web series
  4. Take an online course
  5. Keep up with school and uni work
  6. Do some exercise videos
  7. Complete Netflix
  8. Master a new game 
  9. Finally do all that stuff you’ve been putting off forever 
  10. Become a yoga genius 
  11. Keep up with your usual self-care routine
  12. Read all your books 
  13. Download Houseparty and hang out with your buddies remotely
  14. Stay in touch with everyone you love 
  15. Try out a new recipe (if you can get the ingredients!)
  16. Learn some magic tricks
  17. Get some (socially distanced) fresh air if you can 
  18. Get the board games out 
  19. Do something creative
  20. Watch every movie you’ve ever wanted to see
  21. Start a blog about something you love 
  22. Try to go viral on TikTok
  23. Show your pet all the love 
  24. Maybe even get it to star in that viral TikTok
  25. Discover new music and a virtual listening party with your pals
  26. Rearrange your furniture 
  27. Make over some old clothes 
  28. Keep a journal 
  29. And remember, even though it might feel like it at times, this won’t last forever. 

There you have it guys! 29 things you can do to pass some of the time whilst you’re stuck inside. We know that this is a super weird time for everyone out there, but just doing one or two of these small things a day might help to keep your mind off the news. As always, we are here for you if you need us


Struggling with everything that’s going on in the world right now? Read this. Feeling lonely? We can help with that

If you feel isolated and need to talk to someone, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here to get confidential support and advice from one of our team of trained Digital Mentors.