With 1 in 3 teens sharing that they have self-harmed or had thoughts of ending their lives, there is a clear increase in the need for mental health support. The unfortunate reality is that for schools, supporting mental health is often a challenge when teachers have to teach lessons and mark books and support staff funding is cut year on year. However, if we do not address the needs of young people more effectively, we can be certain that outcomes will not reflect the true capability of today’s youth.
Supporting mental health is something that needs to be done in all aspects of a young person’s life – from home to wider family and friends to school, there is a part for everyone to play. If you are keen to find new ways to support your child’s mental health, then we have some top tips to help you get started.
Take Away the Stigma
One of the biggest barriers to discussing mental health is the stigma that surrounds it. Many young people are too ashamed to share that they are struggling, and others feel that their problems aren’t valid because they are young. Sadly, this stigma has been passed through the generations, making it hard to combat.
Being open about mental health is the first step to breaking the stigma cycle. Explain to your child that most people experience issues with their mental health at some point in their life and reassure them that you are there to listen and support rather than judge.
Don’t Force the Issue
Watching your child struggling is one of the worst experiences you will have to endure as a parent, but it is important to remember that forcing a child to speak about something before they are ready to can have a damaging effect.
If your child is reluctant to talk to you, then offer to help them make contact with someone else that can help and remind them that they can come to you whenever they are ready. You may also notice that they are more willing to share their worries when your attention is on other things like driving or cooking as it can feel less stressful for them.
Another important part of supporting good mental health is by getting your child out and about, especially if they have been avoiding their usual activities or staying at home more than before. Rather than finding yourself in the midst of refusal, ask your child what activities they are willing to try and then work with them to find a suitable place to go.
Activities can be as simple as going for a walk, heading to the cinema, or catching up with loved ones but helping them to get back out into the world will give them time away from the way they feel and allow them to process things more easily.
If your child is struggling with schoolwork or has fallen behind because of mental health pressures, then engaging a service like the one at Phi can really help. Not only will we work to develop your child’s academic abilities, but we will help to build their confidence and be another source of support when they need it. As an organisation we support the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust as we understand the importance of mental wellbeing in young people. Get in touch today to arrange an initial discussion or to find out more about our supportive approach to education!