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Discussing Mental Health

Rachel Danso - Careers Adviser

Between 2021 and 2022 alone, the proportion of older young people aged 17 to 19 in England with a probable mental health disorder jumped from 2 in 6 to 1 in 4. (source The Childrens Society website).

I am Rachel, one of the Careers Adviser at Harrow Youth Stop; working with young people across Harrow, 16 to 24 who are not in education, employment or training. I support young people on their career journey, by providing impartial careers information, advice and guidance.

With World Mental Health Day (10.10.23) approaching, I felt compelled to write a short piece of my experience of young people and how they are affected by mental health issues. I am by no means an expert and will never proclaim to be, but over the last three years I have witnessed a marked change in the increase of young people presenting with low mood, diagnosed anxiety and feelings of not coping well.

I got together with some of our young people and colleagues to discuss the topic of mental wellbeing and we considered tips we would share with others about maintaining positive mental health and we also spoke about what negatively impacts our mental health.

Young people have concerns relating to exams stress, family problems, friendship issues, sleeping problems, overuse of mobile phones and social media platforms all of which they say does not make them feel good.  These concerns were echoed in our group discussion.

‘Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental health illness and/or substance use disorder than any other age group’ (source The Childrens Society website).

Speaking with Yvonne Augustin, Outreach and Engagement Officer at Compass Elevation, she explained that there has been an increase of Substance Misuse associated with Mental Health. The service supports young people who are experiencing personal challenges with their own substance use or someone in their close network.

It is important not to judge a young person but instead give them the space to discuss their needs and try to respond positively, helping them realise that they can speak and be heard.

I recently had a lovely discussion with one of my young people discussing mental health and wellbeing.  She explained what she does to support her own mental health challenges.

‘Being aware of my own mental wellbeing means I can check in with myself and accept that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay’.

‘Music allows me to shut off from the noise of the world.  It gives me serenity and I feel a sense of peace’. (V, aged 18)

If any young person is suffering from a diagnosed mental health illness and/or going through a mental health crisis, they should seek immediate support.

The tips we have created are ways in which we as a team of young people and Careers Advisers maintain our positive mental health.

Our Top Tips

  1. Create a safe space for young people to talk – Careers Adviser
  2. Walking is great for wellbeing; clear your thoughts for a while – Young Person  
  3. Be kind to yourself, it’s ok not to be ok – Young Person
  4. Listening to music makes can you feel good inside – Careers Adviser
  5. Accepting what you cannot change and being at peace with self - Careers Adviser
  6. Spending time with friends and family – Young Person
  7. Signposting young people to relevant mental health provision - Careers Adviser
  8. Treat young people fairly without judgement of their situation - Careers Adviser
  9. Asking for help from a trusted adult – Young Person
  10. Getting physical exercise, eating well and sleeping earlier helps mental health – Young Person

As a Careers Adviser, I cannot ignore the concerns of young people - mental health can have an impact on how they are able to access careers support and entrance into education, employment and training.  It is key to work in partnership with organisations who have the expertise in mental health and to encourage young people and parents/carers (where appropriate) to engage with the support available.

This weekend I will be doing a 5k park run (more like a trot) with some friends to raise some money for the Young Minds #helloyellow campaign – wish me luck.

Let’s continue to support each other and spread the word of taking care of our mental health.

Please see some useful links below.

Useful contacts - 11-18 year old's mental health - Mind

YoungMinds | Mental Health Charity For Children And Young People | YoungMinds

https://www.compass-uk.org/services/harrow-elevation/

Rachel Danso

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