The World Health Organisation are asking us to mark #WorldMentalHealthDay by focussing on building mental resilience in our young people. They estimate that half of all mental ill-health starts before the age of 14, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
Resilience is a Skill for Life
I recently attended a great event at my kid’s school to help parents understand emotional resilience and how to support our kids through the significant changes that happen in the adolescent brain as they deal with growing into adulthood, as well as the pressures of exams and finding their place in society. At the event we learned some top tips for emotion coaching and how the teenage brain changes by remodelling and driving their development into adulthood. Anyone who has seen the film ‘Inside out’ may be able to identify with some of the themes they touched on.
The WHO recommend that ‘Prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness. Parents and teachers can help build life skills of children and adolescents to help them cope with everyday challenges at home and at school’.
Peer support is much more effective that talking to mum or dad, as young people often know best how to support each other when they feel unable to cope and can identify with similar or shared experiences.
Make Time to Listen
Saying ‘I’m fine‘ is the standard response when we ask how people are doing, but this is often said because the person knows that we won’t take the time to listen to how they are really feeling. The #AskTwice and #MakeTime campaigns by Time to Change have some powerful stories about how helpful it has been for someone to take that extra moment to really notice and listen. Becoming a Time to Change champion is something that anyone can do to challenge stigma and start more conversations about mental health in both work and personal settings.
Kindness is good for you as well as others
Dr Daniel Siegal advises that increasing activities involving insight, kindness and empathy can enhance how the adolescent brain integrates and improve wellbeing in our young people. This scheme being run in some schools in Dorset is one way of doing that and there are many more examples of similar schemes having a beneficial effect on improving wellbeing in young people:
We would love to hear from you if you have set up or support something similar in your area, please get in touch and can share your great work!