When did you last ask someone “how are you?” This is a question we pose as a greeting and the normal response is “fine thanks, how are you?”. Do you ever ask again? Our lives are so busy, we want a chat and then move on to the next thing on the list of jobs to do.
When it comes to listening to our young people, this question can be shot down, eyes might be rolled or just plain ignored!
Life feels hard for all of us now, with the health and economic impact of the pandemic, the ongoing conflicts across the world, climate change and the increases in the cost of living, we can all feel our stress levels spiralling.
But what about the children and young adults in our lives? How are they feeling? What at the challenges they face?
Looking at the day-to-day triggers which range from friendship issues, concerns about school or family friction, it is important that we help them navigate strong emotions and feelings in a way that is accessible and age appropriate and as they get older, their interest in the wider world may spark feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
As adults, we may try and protect children by filtering the detail on the world around them. But as they get older and start to seek out the news for themselves, how are they processing all this information and how is it making them feel? Are they understanding what is going on around them and how it will affect them or are they building a fear, a frustration or even a warped sense of what the actual reality is.
Wherever they are in their stage of development, it is important that we are as prepared as we can be to support them in the best way we can.
A survey published in February 2022 by Place2Be and the National Association of Head Teachers found that…
- Mental health problems among pupils had increased since the start of the academic year, including low self esteem (86%), depression (76%) and constant feelings of anger (68%).
- 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. (1)
- 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24. (2)
- 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem (3), yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.(4)
19th September 2023 is Youth Mental Health Day – check https://stem4.org.uk/youthmentalhealthday/ for more information on the resources they offer.
If you are worried about the mental health of your children and young adults, there are places you can look to find help. There are links below to fabulous charities who are there to help, support and advise.
- Young Minds – fighting for young people’s mental health
- The Children’s Society
- Princes Trust – Mental Health Support
If you are worried, please don’t feel afraid to ask for help.