Support your young people to find their way

In recognition of Children's Mental Health Week (7-13 Feb), I am delighted this month to welcome a guest blog from the wonderful Melissa Gale on the topic of youth mental health. As a parent, some of my ongoing worries are: whether my children are happy; is their mental health ok; am I checking in them enough to see how they're doing? In this blog, Melissa talks about some simple things we can all do to support our young people.





Guest blog by Melissa Gale, MBACP (counsellor/school counsellor) & MHFA England Instructor member of Youth & Adult Mental Health First Aid (delivering for an NHS CCG & Independently) and working for a Counselling charity delivering workshops/programmes into schools: to Parents, teaching staff and young people.







Firstly, thank you to Tricia Wilkie for asking me to write this blog in recognition for Children’s Mental Health Week in February 2022.


Things need to change and we all need to play our part in supporting young people.


We all need to play our part in creating a future where mental health wellbeing is treated as a normal part of life, in the same way as physical health – knowing that it is that, a part of life.


And we need to help create a future where every young person’s growth and development is supported by healthy environments in our families, schools, peer groups and / or communities.


Half of mental ill health starts by age 15 and 75% develops by age 18. Source: mhfaengland.org


Never has there been a greater time than right now to gain greater knowledge, insight, compassion and understanding of why mental health struggles unfold and what we can all do as a society to help. A huge part of this is also taking care of ourselves and engaging and responding to our young people respectively so.


With any mental health issue that starts to arise, by taking notice, really listening, empathising and not minimising or dismissing young people’s experience, their process, their worries, their concerns and by supporting them / helping to empower them, we will then be able to help prevent mental health issues from getting worse (potentially stop a crisis from happening), minimise and or help speed up a young person’s recovery.


As Children Mental Health Week Approaches, please think about the following statements / questions - are there any changes that you could consider to help build self esteem/confidence and empower your young people:


We are all trying to manage life the best we can, as are our young people. Trial and error is a way of learning…. Help them to know this, to not be fearful and to try again


Praise your young people often for simply being them not how they look/what they achieve.


Talk with your young people, not at them. Respectful discussion and debate (no matter what age) is heard, processed and acknowledged far more than ‘I told you’ ‘you should’


Really try and empathise with your young person (step into their world and try and see things from their point of view). Whilst we were young once, our world back then is different in so many ways to how it is today (social media / internet access being just one of them).


How often do you have downtime/playtime/fun-time with your young people?


There are often layers of vulnerabilities that can add to a young person developing mental health struggles: from within themselves, in the home environment, at school and community. The bedrock to a young person’s life and their development from very early years is their home environment, being a loving, caring, kind, harmonious and safe place/space – this is instrumental to a young person’s mental health and wellbeing.


Should you be concerned about your young person’s mental health / wellbeing, please seek support – some suggestions might be from: GP; School pastoral; Counselling and:


www.youngminds.co.uk

www.kooth.com

www.anxietyuk.org.uk

www.selfharm.co.uk

www.b-eat.co.uk

www.papyrus-uk.org

www.bacp.co.uk


Melissa’s website:

www.seewithin.co.uk