Youth Mental Health Day 2021
YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH
Do you wonder why young people do what they do? Take maximum risk, do not want to go to school, love to giggle and laugh all the time, prefer to be with their peers than their parents, lie a lot, and even steal from you?
But wait a minute... how does all this fit into their mental Health?
First of all, let us stop and consider who a mentally healthy young person is
WHO IS A MENTALLY HEALTH YOUNG PERSON?
A mentally healthy child or young person as defined by Bright Futures is one who has the ability to:
develop psychologically, emotionally, socially, intellectually and spiritually
initiate, develop and sustain mutually satisfying relationships
use and enjoy solitude
become aware of others and empathize with them
play and learn
develop a sense of right and wrong
resolve (face) problems and setbacks satisfactorily and learn from them.
So, if the above is what a mentally healthy young person should look like, we are left to deduce that there are of lot of mentally unhealthy children about.
Many Parents complain that their adolescent children are not aware of their struggles and do not empathise with them as they spend so much, drink so much ….. the list goes on.
The video below will give you an insight to the brain development of a young person and why they do what they do.
From the above video, we can make the following deductions:
There is a relationship between mental health issues and adolescent development and they influence each other in a variety of ways
It can be difficult to distinguish symptoms of mental health issues from normal adolescent behavior.
Mental Health Risk factors during Adolescence
Many things occur during adolescence which can increase a young person's risk of developing mental health issues. Some examples are:
Hormonal changes (as mentioned in video) may make adolescents more prone to extremes of emotions, anxiety and depression.
Concerns about appearance may lead to depression, anxiety, excessive dieting and over-exercising which can then lead to eating disorder.
Experimenting with alcohol and drugs may lead to substance misuse problems or other mental health issues.
Wanting to be accepted by peers can lead young people to do things they wouldn’t normally do and can lead to distress
We tend to idealize childhood as a carefree time, but youth alone offer no shield against emotional hurts and traumas many children and young people face. They deal with issues ranging from adapting to a new classroom, bullying by classmates, homework/exam pressure and even abuse at home. Also add to that the uncertainties and bodily developments that are part of growing up, and childhood can be anything but carefree.
The ability for a young person to thrive and fit the mentally healthy young person as defined in the beginning despite all the challenges, arises from the skills of resilience. The good news is that resilience can be learned.
Dr. Ginsberg has identified the seven “C” s of resilience, recognizing that “resilience isn't a simple, one-party entity. Adults can use these guidelines to help children recognize their abilities and inner resources
Competence is the ability to handle situations effectively. It is not a vague feeling that “I can do this.” When we highlight what young people are doing well but also give them opportunities to acquire new skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we prevent young people from trying something new—and from recovering on their own if they fail.
Confidence: The solid belief in one’s own abilities is everything. As we teach and nurture, we build children’s confidence.
Connection: When children are part of a community, they know they aren’t alone if they struggle and that they can develop creative solutions to problems. Close ties to family, friends, school, and community gives young people a sense of security.
Character: Every family has its own idea of what constitutes good character. Whatever the specifics, young people need a fundamental sense of right and wrong to ensure they are prepared to contribute to the world and become stable adults. This is character. It helps children become comfortable sticking to their own values and demonstrating a caring attitude toward others.
Contribution: The experience of offering their own service makes it easier for children to ask for help when they need it. Once children understand the feel-good factor of helping others, it becomes easier to ask for help when it’s needed – being willing to ask for help is a big part of being resilient. Young people who learn to cope effectively with stress are better prepared to overcome life’s challenges.
Coping: Young people need healthy coping strategies to manage their stress. Some strategies involve engaging and disengaging such as breaking down seemingly impossible problems and challenges into smaller, achievable pieces, avoiding things that trigger extreme anxiety, and just letting some things go.
Control: Young people need to feel like they have a degree of control over their lives and their environment. When they realize that they can control their decisions and actions, they’re more likely to know that they have what it takes to bounce back.
As Parents, School and Mental Health Practitioners, we need to give young people enough love and attention to help them have the resilience to face whatever issue they are facing with their peers and in their education.
As part of youth mental health day, give the young people around you a hug, let them know you love, value and understand them. Also give them a sweetie.🍬🍫🍭🍦🍬🍬
Trust me their love is that cheap.😍
Engr Mrs Nnenna Amaike
Founder of Fresh Chances LTD (freshchances.org.uk)
Project lead for Fresh Chances Computer Coding and STEM Club Wellbeing Fundays for young people 7-17