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Do you know what options you have when leaving school? Don’t let your decision affect your mental health.  

Mental health is something we all know about or have heard of, but is also something many of us are reluctant to talk about. Mental health conditions affect 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children and young people. 

One of the biggest new ventures you’ll take as young adult is deciding what you want to do when you finish your GCSEs or A-levels. This decision is easy for some, but for some people, being in the dark about their options post-secondary school  is a lonely and challenging place.

Before reading any further please be reminded that all mental health is important and if you need support within any area of your mental health, reach out to someone you love and trust, everyone can be helped. At the bottom of the blog there are some useful helplines.

Facts about mental health

So many school aged children are suffering with mental health conditions. 

  • 380,000 children and young people were treated for mental health conditions in 2018/19.
  • 36.1% of children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition
  • 50% of mental health conditions are established by 14 and 75% by 24
  • 26% of 10-15-year olds are worried about their family not having money 
  • The NHS are committed to helping 70,000 more children and young people by 2020/21

Why do I feel like this?

Coming up to the end of secondary school can be very daunting, with no more promise of certainty or structure, you have to start making decisions for yourself. The decision you have to make on what to do next can be career and sometimes life defining. 

Often the main worries impacting the mental health of 16-18-year olds taking the next steps in education are money worries, living up to expectations and being uneducated on their options. 

Worrying about money? Many young people feel they have to or should go straight into work when they finish school to help support themselves and or family and therefore can’t continue with education. 

Worried about living up to expectations? Family and friends always want the best for you, but the best for you may not match up to your peers’ expectations. Just because your family and friends went to university or want you to go, it doesn’t mean your career path has been paved for you. Sit down and weigh up the pros and cons FOR YOU (it’ll be different for everyone.)

Don’t know what other options you have? Do your research. Not every option will be presented to you on a plate, don’t let your own expectations set you up for failure. No matter what level you’re leaving school at, there is a way to continue with education. 

What are your other options? 

What you do next depends on your school leaving age. 

The options for after GCSEs;

  • College
  • Sixth form
  • Apprenticeship

The options for after sixth form/college;

  • University
  • Apprenticeship
  • Job

For some people, college and/or university is the perfect next step but if it isn’t for you and you want to continue learning, maybe you should consider and apprenticeship.

Here is what you need to know about apprenticeships.

  • Apprenticeships are good if you want to start earning for any reason but would also love to continue learning and getting and education, no need to decide between money and qualifications, because you can have both.
  • You can do an apprenticeship even if your grades aren’t as good as you expected, there is a level for everyone. You can also do your functional skills, math and english alongside you apprenticeship qualification.
  • An apprenticeship would be ideal for you if your learning style is not being stuck in a classroom but more hands on way of learning 

An apprenticeship is an option!

Make your own decision.  

When you’re thinking about your next steps, always take your mental health into consideration, you must do what is right for you. There is an option for everyone if you want to stay in education. Remember to do your research before making your decision. 

If you would like more information on apprenticeships download our learner guide by clicking on the link

Always talk to someone if your struggling with your mental health or just want some guidance.


Helpline  Opening hours  Who’s it for? Contact details 
Anxiety UK Monday-Friday 9:30am- 5:30pm Anyone suffering with anxiety  Phone: 03444775774


CALM Daily 

5pm- midnight

Men aged 15-35 

Campaign Against Living Miserably’

Phone: 0800 58 58 58


Men’s Health Forum 24/7  Support for men via text Website: 
Mental Health Foundation 24/7 Support for anyone with mental health or learning difficulties  Website: 
Mind Monday- Friday 

9am- 6pm

Promoting needs of people with mental health  Phone: 0300 123 3393


No Panic  Daily 

10am- 10pm 

For people suffering with panic attacks or OCD  Phone: 0844 967 4848 


Papyrus Monday- Friday 

10am-5pm & 7pm- 10pm 

Saturday& Sunday 


Young suicide prevention society  Phone: 0800 068 4141 

Samaritans 24/7 People experiencing feelings of distress or despair  Phone: 116 123


Young Minds  Monday- Friday

9:30am- 4pm 

information for child and adolescent mental health  Parent helpline: 0808 802 5544



There are also helplines for other things linked to mental health such as; drug and alcohol addiction, abuse and criminal helplines that can be found by searching NHS mental health helpline.

All mental health is important.