As knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing grows and the pressures facing young people increase, it’s understandable that we’ll come into contact with more young people who are experiencing some sort of struggle with their mental health.
The Childline Annual Review 2018/19 found that 45 per cent of counselling sessions related to mental health and wellbeing. These covered a wide range of problems including self-harm and feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts and feelings.
- see also (below): additional concerns due to coronavirus
Mental health and wellbeing refers to how a person thinks, feels and manages their life experiences and any challenges. Just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health too.
People who have good mental health and wellbeing find it easier to manage their emotions and behaviours. They are likely to be able to cope well with the day to day stresses of life and will be able to actively take part in their social setting or community.
Someone who is experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing may be unable to control negative or unwanted thoughts or feelings. This may have an impact on their ability to function effectively, which may hinder their participation and enjoyment of activities, social interactions, sport or school.
Some young people may feel they have a mental health problem or be experiencing poor wellbeing without having a specific medical diagnosis. This is where your awareness, understanding and ability to signpost to support services can be useful.
There are many terms used to describe the illnesses and conditions that can cause a problem with a person's mental health and wellbeing. We are using the term 'mental health problem' because we feel it encompasses a wide range of experiences. This is supported by feedback received by the mental health charity Mind that people prefer the word ‘problem’ rather than illness or condition.
It’s worth remembering that children and young people are likely to use phrases and words that they relate to when talking about their own experiences.
Taking care of yourself
You may recognise that you are experiencing problems with your own mental health and wellbeing. It may be advisable to follow some self-care advice, particularly for those adults who are responsible for managing safeguarding and child protection issues. There are also several things that can be implemented to help maintain positive mental health in the workplace.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and social distancing measures are placing a number of additional pressures on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. They may be experiencing increased feelings of anxiety, low mood or loneliness and some will need additional support at this time.
If your club or activity is keeping in touch with members virtually or taking part in remote coaching you can start a conversation by signposting young people to specialist services, such as Childline's online coronavirus advice and Young Minds' coronavirus and mental health pages.