A global problem
Mental health is a topic that has certainly become more commonly discussed in the last few years. And rightly so. In particular, the mental health of young people has been in the spotlight.
It is estimated that 1 in 7 of all the 10 to 19-year-olds globally experience mental health problems.
Furthermore, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15 to 29-year-olds.
Adolescents suffering with mental health conditions are particularly vulnerable to:
· social exclusion
· educational difficulties and risk-taking behaviours
But what are some signs that we can look out for in order to identify those with mental health issues?
What to look for
Any drastic changes are potentially a warning that an adolescent might be struggling.
For example, excessive sleeping or insomnia, or sudden loss or increase of appetite are red flags that could be indicators of a larger problem.
Other signs include a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, a dramatic decline in academic performance or behavioural changes including displays of aggression or despondency.
What can you do to help?
If you are concerned that someone you know is struggling with their mental health, there are some steps you can take to help:
· Remind them that you are there to listen no matter what and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you.
· Try to listen without judgement or telling them what to do
· Try and make time to provide them with a break.
· Whether you ask them to join you in preparing a meal, or even just watch a movie together, make sure your young person knows that you are there to provide them with an escape if they need it.
However, it’s important to remember that independence is important during adolescence. You don’t want to suffocate them.
Give them space if they want time alone to process their thoughts and feelings
If possible, it may be helpful to take your young person to see a counsellor or therapist to speak to about things they may not feel comfortable sharing with you.
A key feature of counselling is that the therapeutic relationship is built with someone unconnected to your friends or family. This independence allows a honest relationship to develop.
At Hartwood Health we are lucky to have a skilled counsellor, Lorraine Stevens, who works with people aged 13 and over. She can provide your young person with a safe space to explore their thoughts and feelings.
Since the relationship between your young person and Lorraine is key to facilitating positive changes, we must ensure that their relationship is comfortable. For this reason, we offer free 30-minute sessions so that Lorraine and your young person can get a feel for each other. If they just don’t click, we can suggest other counsellors - there is no obligation to continue with Lorraine.
For more information on how we can help you, feel free to get in touch! We’re always happy to help!