Supporting Children and Young People
A survey by Young Minds carried out with 2,438 young people aged 13-25, between 26th January and 12th February 2021 showed 67% believed that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. Not only this, but pre-pandemic, 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
For those supporting young people, it can seem difficult to know where to start. We recommend opening conversations about mental health, allowing young people to feel heard. Here are some tips.
Tips for Talking to a Young Person about Mental Health
Put yourself in the young person’s shoes and try to imagine how they’re feeling. Listen to their tone of voice and notice their body language as this will give you clues as to how they’re feeling.
Find a Safe Space to Talk
Make it clear they’re not in trouble, and meet in a neutral space which is private and calm. Try and be on the same level as them, for example both sitting down to make the conversation less intimidating.
This means allowing for silences and not filling them. Asking questions such as ‘how can I help you?’, ‘how long have you felt like this’, ‘what kind of support do you think might help?’ or ‘how are you feeling at the moment?’ can help.
Stay Calm and Regulated
When a young person is feeling overwhelmed or unwell, being as calm as possible can help them to feel supported and, in turn, can help them feel calmer themselves. We have tips such as 345 breathing and grounding techniques on our wellbeing activities page.
Accept them as they are
Respect their feelings, experiences and values even if they are different from yours. Do not judge or criticise because of your own beliefs and attitudes, and try to avoid any language which may evoke shame such as ‘pull yourself together’, ‘you shouldn’t feel like this, your life is fine!’, ‘don’t be silly’.
Signposting to Other Support
Websites such as Young Minds have great resources and signpost you to further support, or you may want to make an appointment with their GP as a first step. Asking their permission to do this, or gently signposting them towards this support could help their recovery.
After you’ve had this conversation, remember to follow up with the young person to check with how they’re feeling, and give reassurance that there is support available for them.
Look for Parents & Carer Support
Bath Mind regularly offers mental health training courses on both adult and youth mental health and wellbeing. If you’re a parent and/or carer looking to learn skills around supporting your young person with their mental health, taking a look at our upcoming courses page.
As we return to the new academic year, we would like to remind you that Bath Mind is committed to supporting young people in our community. In addition to our specific services for young people, our wellbeing groups welcome all over the age of 16 who are registered with a GP in B&NES. Here are our youth specific services:
Bath Mind’s Youth Services
Safe Space Youth Group
Our Safe Space peer support group is for young people (aged 16-25) to connect and have discussions about their mental health and wellbeing in a safe, supportive place, facilitated by Bath Mind staff and volunteers. There are opportunities to engage in new activities based around the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, such as sharing music, literature, guided art sessions, theatre and physical activity. They meet on Thursdays from 5pm-6.30pm over Zoom, with monthly meets in person.
To join, contact: Becky Hughesman, 07538 113890 or [email protected]
Room 627 is a project created to help young people navigate the changes of moving from Year 6 to Year 7, with kindness, compassion and creativity. A space where young people can explore different activities, share ideas and get creative, to build confidence in the changes presented by moving up to secondary school.
For further information contact Ailsa at [email protected]
In addition to our specific services for young people, our wellbeing groups and many of our mental health services welcome all over the age of 16 who are registered with a GP in Bath and North East Somerset. Whatever it is you or a young person you support is experiencing, we are to support you.