In May I attended ‘The Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People Conference’ and was once again astounded by the statistics around key issues for our young people. Most disturbing was the ‘Help-Seeking Patterns of Young People’ identified by Headspace which showed that during adolescence both girls and boys reduce the level of help-seeking from parents; something most parents are painfully aware of!
While girls increased their help-seeking from friends, boys did not. And more importantly, while girls did not increase assistance from professionals during this time, boys learn to avoid professional services altogether. Ultimately this means that:-
- Girls “Increasingly turn to friends – who can (sometimes) amplify each others’ distress.” and
- Boys “Increasingly rely on no-one but themselves.” (headspace.org.au)
During what is known to be the most vulnerable time for young men, in particular, 16-24 years, they also have the lowest help-seeking behaviour of any age group … something I find most alarming. At the same time, I have been working with more young people and am increasingly aware of just how overwhelming life can be for them at times and how many messages there are ‘out there’ that make it difficult for them to just feel what they are feeling and not have to be tough and keep it all together!
So … what does this mean and how can we help our young people?
- Firstly, it reminds us of how important it is to build positive relationships with our children and for them to have at least one ‘Trusted Adult’ that they can confide in when the going gets tough.
- Secondly, we need to be aware of what is happening with them and find ways of validating their feelings and their experience of life at the same time as we offer them more supportive perspectives.
- Finally … and I think this is a huge one … we (especially men) need to model that it’s ok to be human, to have feelings, to not have it all together, and to ask for help when necessary.
Along with all this, a great strategy is to equip young people with reliable contacts and places to find help if and when they need it. You can find a fabulous list on the headspace site here.
Remember … ‘A Stitch In Time’ saves nine.
BLOG | June 11, 2013
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Thanks for sharing!