In an age where things are becoming progressively more tumultuous for young people, it’s no surprise mental health issues are on the rise.
55% of children who are bullied suffer from severe depression as adults. Among children and teenagers the number of those suffering from anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years and more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced bullying.
These worrying statistics show how challenging life can be for our younger generation and brings to light how crucial it is that we preach anti-bullying and anti-harassment at the same time as teaching self care. While it may seem self explanatory, those who suffer from mental health issues or are subject to bullying often find the latter immensely difficult. Instilling self care practices from a young age can really help give those who feel they may have hit a wall, something to fall back on. While this is no blueprint for preventing mental health issues from arising, learning to cope with them or even the weight of everyday life can be invaluable.
I think we can overlook very basic acts of self love such as keeping our bedrooms and home spaces clean and tidy, keeping our clothes clean, taking pride in our appearance and doing things we enjoy on a regular basis, and brand them as mundane, ‘everyday’ tasks or even chores. I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment and think we should take pleasure in the little things; chasing the big end goal, the grand finale, the show stopping firework is necessary at times but so often unattainable in our daily lives. We must learn to appreciate the little things and show others that, although not every day many be good, there is something good in ever day.
Indeed, warning signs for mental unrest can often be a lack of interest or care taken towards basic hygiene, an inability or lack of clear cognitive function, dramatic mood swings or changes in eating habits. In younger children, issues may manifest in things like frequent temper tantrums, changes in school performance or persistent nightmares.
If you think things have begun to spiral out of control please do not put off asking for help purely because you think it’s ‘taboo’, ‘embarrassing’ or an act of worrying over something silly. Your concerns are valid, you need to be listened to and you will thank yourself in the long run. Of course if you’re fearing for the health of a loved one or friend, this can become a little more tricky. Try broaching the subject in a non confrontational way and try to use reflexive questioning for example ;
“Can you tell me how … makes you feel”, “So what you’re telling me is…can you help me understand how that…”
Remember crisis management is ten times more difficult than prevention or catching and treating issues early. We must accept that taking care of our mental health is just as important and indeed feeds into our physical wellbeing. If we are prepared to encourage those we love to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day and exercise regularly to benefit them physically, we should be prepared to help them manage their mental health. Doing simple things everyday such as making to-do lists, meditating or taking time to focus on a creative outlet, can make a huge difference. As well as this, we must start and maintain an open dialogue surrounding mental health so to give those suffering, or those who believe someone they love is suffering, a place to turn to.
Please find below links to charities which help those suffering from mental health issues for more detailed information and contact details.