Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is A Guide to Rough Times?

It was originally a leaflet which turned into a website and this is the newer, bigger updated version. It deals with things (rough times) which affect teenagers by helping them understand and adopt a strategy for facing up to the problem, finding out more about it and taking action to deal with it. GTRT does this by talking about a subject generally and then offering a selection of other sources of expert information, advice or support, along with videos and social media links and the occasional bit of entertainment and humour.

What's in it?

A lot. What it is and how to use it, including how protect your privacy and safety online and by phone, how to face up to a problem, prioritise taking action, learn more about the problem and find the information and help to deal with it. How to be more in control of your life and your mental health by being more aware and better prepared, and how to get more out of life and put something back in.

What's self help anyway?

Self help is pretty much anything where there isn't a doctor or a prescription for drugs involved. It implies you taking more control of your situation and state of mind by facing up to it, investigating it and deciding how to deal with it. But it doesn't imply that you don't need or get any help to do just that - there are a whole load of services and organisations and groups out there willing and able to listen, advise, inform and support you by phone, internet or in person. Sometimes this means helping each other as fellow sufferers or ex sufferers where there may be a support group or a mentoring system where another person backs you up when you need it and you can do the same for someone else when you feel strong enough. It's great for people who don't need medical treatment and for whom the traditional doctor's appointment did nothing. But depending on what the problem is, it's not a bad idea to run it past your doctor first just in case if there is a chance that you really do need medical treatment or supervision.

How does GTRT work, how do I find my way around?

We've tried to make it so that you can find pretty much everything a number of different ways and we've tried to explain what's in it and how to get around it in A guide to rough times which is also the "about us" button on the top header of each page. We link to all sorts of other pages on the site, and other sites to bring you the best possible resources we could find from the people who can help you. It's like a directory only better and bigger and we talk about things first before we suggest where you can look. Every organisation or service we tell you about should also be in the Services Directory were you can read a bit about them and find contact details on a standard format entry for each one.  

Who is it for?

Teenagers. We plan to adapt it for parents, carers and other concerned adults, and also for young adults (over-18s) and for children.

Why should I bother to look at it? I'm ok!

Well you might be now, but it can't hurt to know what's in GTRT in case you need it later, and meanwhile you might be able to tell someone else who needs to know about it where THEY can get help.


How is it different or better for me than any other site I could look at?

Well it's local for a start, so we can tell you what's in your area as well as what's online or national. We're working on you being able to tell us a bit about yourself to personalise the information you get back and you can save your own choice of interesting bits. We've picked the very best of everything we found out there and put it in GTRT so you've got the best possible range of help and advice to choose from.

I'm fed up with finding sites which turn out to be old and out of date. What are you doing about that on GTRT? I don't want to waste my time. 

For a start, we've checked out everything we've used to make sure it works at the time and we're certainly keen to keep checking in the future as things change all the time. We want you to be able to find what you need from this site and not give you the run around sending you off to stuff which isn't there any more, or which has altered significantly. But we can only promise to do our best - we haven't got a crystal ball and obviously sometimes helplines cut their hours, charities shut down through lack of funding and websites go out of use. So if you know something we don't, feel free to point it out!

I'd like to find out more but I don't have my own computer, where can I go?

If you are at school or college it might be possible for you to use their computers in your free time. We tell you about where else you can get free access in How and where to get online and make sensible suggestions for other ways to manage not having exclusive use of a computer or phone.

I need to find out where to get help but how can I stop anyone else finding out?

This might be more important than you think if you are at risk of being humiliated, bullied, threatened or abused if someone knows what you have been looking at. Covering your tracks if necessary explains what you need to do to keep your internet browsing and phone calls private and protect your safety.

Who are you to be giving me advice and why should I take any notice? 

Because we're right most of the time, been there and done it?! But don't take our word for it, read it and make your own mind up! GTRT isn't about us being right or you doing as you are told, it's about trying to help you stay out of trouble, sort your problems out and have a better life - and that's what we really care about, and honestly there is no satisfaction in being able to say after something goes wrong that we could have told you....wouldn't you warn somebody you saw about to walk in the road in front of a bus they didn't see? Or see what you could do to get them help if it did hit them? And best of all wouldn't it be great to know they knew enough to keep themselves safe without you keeping an eye on them.

Is it appropriate for younger teenagers given some of the things it deals with?

Yes we wondered about that, but teenagers aren't made to order and are all different at different ages, so if we pretend that at 13 (for instance) there's no need to know about some stuff, what happens if there really was? So we had a look at other brilliant sites who have to deal with the same age range and found that mostly they don't try to determine who looks at what. We think our site users are old enough to know what it is that they need to know - and we can't actually stop them reading stuff which might be inappropriate at the time anyway. Our treatment of the serious stuff doesn't glamorise it or suggest in any way that it should be tried and we really don't think that we are likely to put ideas into anyone's head - we certainly hope not. It's more important that the ones who need to know about drugs and pregnancy and STIs and eating disorders can find it, whether they are 13 or 19 - because if they have the problem, they need the help, and we are not here to judge or preach at them.

What about parents, carers and educators?

Well, if you fit into that category and you're reading this, you're probably either a concerned adult willing to understand and help a troubled teenager, or a paranoid control freak watching their every move. Assuming you are in the first bracket, you might find it useful to see what a teenager needs to deal with and exactly what help they can be finding through GTRT, whether or not they are talking to you about it. Many of the sites we suggest have sections for parents and carers too. Longer term we intend to have a corresponding section of GTRT for you with directly relevant material because we know that a rough time can work both ways - you may be having one because of your teenager, or they may be having one and you want to help them.

How can it help me?

GTRT can help you because it deals with a lot of things which might be affecting you now or in the future, which you might have thought were only happening to you, were normal or couldn't do anything about. We tell you about a huge choice of services and organisations and try to give you a taste of what they can do for you, including showing you that there a whole load of other people who've been through it too and maybe still are, and that you can help each other by sharing your experiences. We don't mess about or pretend and we don't judge. We help you by giving you the chance to help yourself and by telling you who can help you to do that, and how to do this in private and safety so you don't have to be feel embarrassed or act hard.

Isn't a bit negative and gloomy?

It's not unknown for a lot of teenagers to feel negative and gloomy! We simply took the view that to pretend all this stuff isn't out there happening to somebody is dishonest and does nothing to help the people having those problems. There's nothing good about smiley happy people thinking you should be like them when you feel like life's not worth living, and should you have had your drink spiked or caught a gambling addiction young you might be relieved to find that GTRT has got some help for you. It doesn't mean you have to feel like a weirdo if your life is luckily free from much of the rough stuff, or like a freak if your life is rough right now. Our hope is that you can learn to resist the rough stuff as and when it threatens you and, with some thought, try to get more out of your life and generally feel better by deliberately going after the good stuff. There's quite a bit about all that positive stuff on GTRT, and we'd like to think we made me smile a few times along the way even when we were talking about the rough stuff.

What's it doing on a health website?

It's there because Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) took it on; it originally helped fund it when it was first created. Anything that is making life rough will affect how you feel both physically and particularly mentally. For instance, a lot of depression is caused by circumstances and many people with problems add to them by turning to drink or drugs to try to forget about them. It's a bit like the chicken and the egg and which comes first - if you feel down then you may get into things which actually make you worse, and if you are doing things which get you into trouble or make life rough they are extremely likely to make you feel down as a result. Mental health is about prevention and knowing how to get and keep a good state of mind, not just a list of treatable conditions.

Why has it got videos and social media links?

Find a teenager without access to anything with a screen or a chance. So since they spend their lives holding something or looking at something loosely described as "media", we decided if you can't beat them, join them. Seriously though, most organisations and charities and groups have Facebook or twitter accounts and whilst we don't endorse the use of either, we may as well tell you who has them and it's up to you whether you use them or not. In fact we'd like you all to read the page on internet and mobile phone safety and to be sure you know what you are signing up to. Videos - well this makes the page look more interesting and gives you a break from reading lots of words. We've raided resources from other sites and Youtube to bring you a selection which are sometimes funny but always intended to give you the same information we write about but for watching. We know some people find lots of words difficult and this is another way to get information.

Will it always look like this?

Oh no. We have great plans, including making it look more like magazine style, and we hope to continue to make it bigger and better and one day have our own forum and ways for you to put your own stories and ideas to good use on here. Watch this space, as they say, coming soon.

Where did GTRT come from?

The original text for the guide was collated and written by Pam Timbrell and funded by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust before 2007. Local variations were supported by the Ormiston Trust, Parents First and Hunts.Mind. The original leaflet was then developed into a website at  and a separate steering group took over responsibility.

In 2011 it became clear that the guide needed updating and CPFT was happy to take back the task of maintaining the site and creating a more contemporary and extensive version including multi-media and social media links. Work on this started in spring 2012 alongside the development of a new website for CPFT generally.

The narrative for the present expanded Guide to Rough Times was written by Janet Hassall (copyright) specific to topics chosen for inclusion by her. Information was compiled from websites quoted in good faith and appropriately acknowledged. Original graphics from A Guide to Rough Times were adapted and incorporated, and Shutterstock photos used along with properly acknowledged videos freely accessible on YouTube and the websites quoted. You can view a powerpoint presentation made by Janet for the purpose of a review of the site at a certain stage (if you really want to, that is)


The page was last updated on 18 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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