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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Sturmer

Young people, and conversations about mental health

This week it's Mental Health Week, and we've seen some worrying statistics about how hard young people find it to talk about their mental health with their peers. I spoke to Yahoo News about this topic, and offered some tips to make it easier to have these important conversations. Click here to view the original article, and read on to see what I had to say.

How important is it that young people talk about mental health?

As our bodies and brains grow and develop, it’s important to look after our physical health. But it’s also extremely important to think about young people’s mental health, and to encourage them to share how they are feeling. This is how they will learn to seek support, to support each other and to build resilience. The more we talk, the more we learn that it’s acceptable to show vulnerability, and the more we destigmatise mental health concerns. Tips to overcome the awkwardness, how young people can take that first step to talking about mental health:

  • It’s important to feel comfortable. So think about what medium works best for you. Maybe it’s face-to-face, over the phone, via text or social media.

  • When you’re deciding how to reach out, think about how you want to be received. It might feel easier to send a text and wait for a response. But the challenge with asynchronous communication is that you might be left hanging while you wait for a response, which could lead to further awkwardness or worry.

  • If you’re thinking about reaching out to support a friend, make sure they understand why you’re bringing it up. Explain that you care about them - and you’re not trying to be nosy or judgemental or rude, you are just checking in to see how they are doing.

  • If it feels too personal to share how you’re feeling, you can weave it in with some celebrity storytelling. Our newsfeeds are full of stories as celebrities and influencers are embracing the idea of talking about mental health. Use it to your advantage as a way to start the conversation.

  • Go with your gut. Some people voice their mental health concerns, while others hide them deep down inside. This can make it difficult to spot warning signs. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t quite right, then check it out with your friend.

  • Show leadership. If you are open with how you are feeling, then you are acting as a role model for others. You’re showing that it’s acceptable to be vulnerable and seek support.

If a young person is struggling with their mental health, who should they reach out to for support? In many cases, friends and family can offer vital support. Beyond this, a young person can reach out to the wellbeing or pastoral support team at their school. There is also help available via CAMHS and their GP practice. I would also recommend the SHOUT helpline. I used to be a volunteer there myself. It’s staffed by trained volunteers who are there to listen and support you, and they can also recommend other organisations that might be able to offer support.

Keen to explore more? In counselling we can take a deeper look at how you are feeling and how you can communicate with others. Click here to contact me, or click here to book a 30-minute introductory call.

young people, and conversations about mental health

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