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Mental health - small ways you can make a big difference - Community

In recent years, Britain has seen a steady decline in the state of young people’s mental health. Recent figures show over 50% of mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 18. Generally known as ‘Generation Z’, young people’s primary worries and concerns are school/studying, money and associated financial woes and terrorism.

So, what can we all do to support our children’s mental health and provide a positive environment for them to grow up in? The good news is that there are small ways that we can all provide help and support on a daily basis.

Patience is the key…

It is thought that 1 in 6 people in the UK will be affected at some point by a mental health problem. People often struggle with this and shame and embarrassment are familiar outcomes. These feelings are no different if you are the parent who is worried about their child suffering. Feelings can become ones of frustration and helplessness. It is important to hold these feelings in check until your child is ready to talk to you.

Encourage conversation…

Communication amongst young people can consist of a confusing mix of ‘text-speak’, acronyms and emojis – whereas considerably more can be achieved by actual conversation!

The key to initiating a ‘chat’ is to not intimidate or overwhelm the young person with a bombardment of questions. Keep the chat casual and let them speak. Try not to tell them your opinions and strive to make them feel comfortable. You don’t even have to chat about mental health. Just knowing that they can talk to you and that you are offering to listen may be enough for them to open up and share with you what is worrying them.

Overreaction is the worst thing…

Being a teenager in the 21st century is tough. Parenting a teenager in the 21st century can be an even taller order! If something about your young person troubles you, then monitoring their behaviour and mood changes can be a good starting point. Modern teenage life is stressful, coping with exam expectations, social media, peer pressure and adolescent emotions can take their toll. If you spot changes in behaviour that concern you, don’t panic. This doesn’t automatically mean there’s a significant illness or problem. It is more than likely that your child is finding a way to cope with a new challenge or situation.

Sounds simple, but just try to ‘be there’…

Teenagers aren’t the only ones juggling the stresses of modern day living. Our jobs, personal lives, parenting commitments and generally busy lives can lead to a lack of just ‘being there’.  Try switching off your phone, turn off the TV, silence the tablet so you aren’t disturbed by emails and just try chatting. A simple conversation can give way to a child offloading what is really on their mind and if that happens you’ll be glad there are no electronic interruptions.

Be a good role model…

The latest statistics show that less than 15% of young people in the UK get sufficient exercise, sleep or periods of rest and relaxation. These three things are key to a healthy mind-set. It is important as a parent that you too, try to maintain this healthy attitude and set an example. Parenting is demanding and stressful and so prioritising your own mental health will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your family and your ability to cope with a loved one’s needs and worries.

Looking to help others as a career? Our health & social care courses are a great stepping stone towards entering a career in physical or mental health. 

If you need help…

Most things can be talked through and resolved. However, occasionally you may feel you need professional guidance. There are many charities (e.g. Mind, Young Minds) offering support and guidance to parents and young people. Most offer great online resources via their websites with informative easy to read guides outlining solutions and tips to help address your concerns. A combination of accessing resources and talking things through can often have favourable results. However, if a little more assistance is needed, you can ask the advice of your GP. Your child can see the GP with you or alone if they prefer. This is the starting point if you feel that your child needs to possibly access more.


If you yourself are struggling, we have an on-site student counselling service happy to address any concerns you have.

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