For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we’re opening up the conversation on all things mental health. Each day this week, we’ve been catching up with a different guest to talk about everything from how they help those suffering, to their own experiences.
Today we’re taking five with Stevie from the JD Foundation’s charity partner; YoungMinds. With 5 children in every classroom experiencing some form of mental health problem, YoungMinds is fighting for a future where all young minds feel supported and empowered through life.
What steps are YoungMinds taking to support young people’s mental health?
We are leading the movement to make sure every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what. We provide young people with tools to look after their mental health. We empower adults to be the best support they can be to the young people in their lives, and we give young people the space and confidence to get their voices heard and change the world we live in.
How did you get involved in YoungMinds and how can others?
I joined YoungMinds as a volunteer on the Parents Helpline, whilst I was completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology. Over the years, I have undertaken several roles within the helpline team and I currently co-manage the service. One of my key responsibilities is managing and supporting the amazing volunteers on our team. Each year, we recruit volunteers to join the Parents Helpline to help us support parents and carers in need of help and advice via our telephone, webchat and email services. Our volunteering vacancies are advertised on our website, and we encourage you to keep an eye throughout the year if you are interested in becoming part of our team.
Why is it so important that charities like YoungMinds focus on mental health?
Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. Sometimes we feel well, sometimes not so well, and sometimes we struggle to cope. Mental health affects how we think, feel and act. Having good mental health is about feeling positive about ourselves and others, being able to form good relationships, and having the resilience to overcome challenges. It takes courage to ask for help. But for many young people who do, the support they need just isn’t there.
In the UK today, an estimated five children in every classroom has a mental health problem. A quarter of 17-year-old girls have self-harmed in the last year, while suicide remains the single biggest killer of boys and young men. But things can get better. We think it’s important that no young person feels alone with their mental health.
What would you say to a young person struggling with their mental health?
If you’re struggling to cope, you are not alone and however you are feeling right now is valid. With the right help and support, you can get through this. There are lots of things you can do to help yourself, and the YoungMinds’ website is a great source of information. But, above all, if you’re struggling to cope, talk to someone you can trust about how you’re feeling. It could be a friend, a family member, a doctor, a teacher, a school counsellor or a confidential helpline like Childline or The Mix. If you need urgent support, contact the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger service by texting YM to 85258.
How can we remove the stigma that comes with mental health and start talking openly about it?
For people who experience a mental health problem, the shame and judgement around mental health can stop someone seeking help when they really need it. Tackling the stigma that surrounds mental health can help someone feel less isolated with their mental health problems and help them get support for their mental health when they really need it.
Thinking of this year’s theme, ‘nature’ – how do you think this can play a part in improving mental health?
Getting outside, whether that’s going for a walk, sitting in the park or doing activities outdoors can have a positive impact on your mental health. It can help you take a break from what’s going on in your life, help you to feel calm and to de-stress.
If you’re struggling to cope, you are not alone
How can a young person reach out for help? How do they get in contact with YoungMinds?
If you need urgent support, contact the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger service by texting YM to 85258. We also have lots of advice for young people, as well as links to other organisations that can support you on our website.
(If you’re a parent) If you’re looking for more advice on how to support your child during the coronavirus pandemic, the YoungMinds website has lots of advice and ways to contact our parents helpline including email and webchat if you’re unable to talk on the phone. Visit www.youngminds.org.uk/parents for more information.