We’ve all got Mental Health and it needs to be held in at least the same esteem as Physical Health is.
I am pleased that this year World Mental Health Day on October 10th is focusing on “young people and mental health in a changing world” because it is essential that we support young adults and children with their mental health in the 21st century.
There are so many triggers online and offline 24/7 that it seems we cannot escape mentally ill health. But actually we can help support young people with handling their mental health.
I spoke to some bloggers, vloggers and influencers who talk about mental health and wellbeing to find out what tips they’d like to share…
Ask for Help
Claire Rocks said: “My advice would be: Don’t be scared or ashamed to seek and ask for help.
“There is help out there for you. Speak to someone that you trust, such as a parent, friend, teacher or doctor. Understand that mental illness does not define you and that a lot of people experience it during their lives. You are not alone. Once you have a diagnosis find out about it along with family and friends. Make sure you have a support network you can trust and understand what is going on with you.”
And sooner the better said Ross Hunt.
He said: “Find someone to talk to and seek help if you need it. It took me 7 years to finally go to the doctor with depression and that was purely because my wife made me. I wish I done it so much sooner. I could have saved myself many years of suffering if I did.”
Find an Outlet
Jeannette Cripps writes about her children’s autism and anxieties as well as her own journey through depression.
She said: “My top tip would be that there is nothing to be ashamed of, having a mental illness and that finding an outlet for it, whether by talking, blogging or a hobby is so useful. For me, it’s crochet, it focuses my mind stitch by stitch.”
Leah Higgins agrees. She said: “I’ve had bulimia, anxiety and depression.
“Walking really helps me, just taking my little one for a stroll. Getting out of the house and clearing your head.”
Have A Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) or a WAP (Wellness Action Plan)
Developing a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) can help people to actively support their own mental health by reflecting on the causes of stress and poor mental health, and by taking ownership of practical steps to help address these triggers.
This process can also help managers/carers to open up dialogue with the person, understand their needs and experiences and ultimately better support their mental health.
Mind Mental Health Charity’s WAP is inspired by Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®): an evidence-based system used worldwide by people to manage their mental health.
Thanks to Helena Rodger Ashworth for this recommendation of Mind and the WRAP.
Author Becky Goddard-Hill said: ” You absolutely need to let your children know that it is normal to have a breadth of feelings: anger sadness anxiousness fear and that you are open to hearing all of these from them, not just the ‘good’ or ‘easy’ stuff.
“Suppressed emotions can lead to all sort of mental ill health.”
Caring for a loved one with an eating disorder
Janet ET said: “As a parent caring for a teen with an eating disorder, I’ve learned that it is not really my child but the eating disorder who is shouting and arguing and fighting.
“My child is in there somewhere, sometimes hidden behind this other personality. Try not to descend into arguments when they don’t have any capacity to be logical. It’s tough, but there are ups as well as downs.”
I agree with Janet as someone who has suffered from an Eating Disorder since I was 12 (Bulimia and Anorexia at different points) it is similar to hearing voices. The eating disorder is in your head controlling you and telling you people are being evil when they try and help you. Looking back, rationally I can see people were only doing their best but when I was in the midst of it, it was the eating disorder which was in control of me and it was that which was actually attacking me rather than a loved one.
For adult peer-to-peer support feel free to join our closed facebook group focusing on eating disorders.
Natalie Ray recommends Mindfulness for everyone, including children. Here she writes about some of the Benefits of Mindfulness for Children:
– Physical health
It is a sad indictment of our society that children are increasingly suffering from stress. And research has shown that stressful events can impact their health both immediately and in later life. The use of mindfulness techniques can reduce the stress reaction to events, thereby lessening their effect on physical health.
Anxiety is sadly common among children and young people. This gives rise to worries about things that could happen, instead of things that are presently happening. Children who learn to be mindful are able to focus their attention on what is happening in the here and now, which can break the anxiety cycle.
Whilst I haven’t found any research to suggest mindfulness could prevent depression, there is a suggestion that it could work as a coping mechanism. It can teach people to be aware of their unhealthy thoughts and bring their attention back to the here and now. This can be taught using breathing techniques and focus on positive things around them.
– Increased attention
In a study with children in year three and four of primary school, mindfulness increased the attention span of 64% of them. I know that Libby struggles with concentration, and I understand her frustration. If mindfulness can make it easier for school children to concentrate, it will be beneficial for the whole class.
Prevention is better than cure
We also spoke to WeParent whose mission is to give parents the skills they need to ensure their kids have the best chance of a lifetime of positive mental health.
“Parents can reduce the chances that their kids suffer anxiety or depression,” said WeParent’s Nick Tustin.
He said: “There’s a lot of talk about how big a problem mental health is, especially in teenagers. With over 1 in 5 teens now experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
“The conversation seems to be largely centred around what can be done to help kids once their mental health has started to suffer. Why are we only talking cure, and ignoring prevention? There is so much we can do today to help every kid have positive mental health, and greatly reduce the chances that anxiety or depression will ever be part of their lives.
“Mental health is a thing we all have, same as physical health, and kids need to know how to stay mentally healthy. Parents can give their kids the tools to help them have a positive sense of who they are, and the skills they need to handle life’s pressures.
“Research shows that with these tools, anxiety and depression rates can be significantly reduced. And we can start teaching or kids healthy coping strategies to deal with their emotions from as young as age 4.
“Let’s face it, kids are going to get angry, feel sad or get anxious. It’s a fact of life. The trick is finding the approach to take as parents when our kids are having a meltdown or feeling upset. We find ourselves wondering what on earth to do, hoping it’s a phase that will pass.
“WeParent is designed to give parents the tools to pass on these skills to their kids. Our mission is to help parents help their children have positive mental health.
“Our team of psychologists have adapted their approach so parents can put the strategies in place at home, and tweak them to suit their own kids.”
To find out more about how you can help your child have positive mental health check them out at:
Follow them on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/WeParentUK