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There has been increasing media coverage of mental health issues and especially those experienced by teenagers. Being confined is likely to be a huge issue. We know that developing independence and freedom is one of the central parts of being a teenager, and exploration and experimentation, therefore, are actions that follow. However, how teenagers see the world is also impacted by neural development. This article published in The Guardian in 2015 on ‘The Secrets of the Teenage Brain’ is an excellent summary of some of the observations and questions parents have.
We try to get pupils to understand mental health as a spectrum i.e. mental health is not a term just to describe negative ways of thinking and feeling but can also be positive. Think of a spectrum from -10 to +10 with 0 being ok. Children need to understand what they can do to give themselves a ‘+’ figure and how to prevent or deal with a ‘-‘ score. Any score below -6 would indicate a need to have professional intervention. The charity Mind describes mental health as
“Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.”
Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”
However, negative mental health is a specific aspect of all of our development but in teenagers it can be impacted by a number of factors. Barnardo’s identify the reasons below as perhaps being more pertinent during lockdown.
Children and young people have told us the main reasons that they are struggling with lockdown are:
(taken from Barnados.org.uk and found on the link in additional resources below)
Tackling mental health should take two forms:
The websites below have been chosen as offering accessible advice and resources so please do look through them. A short summary of each is provided.
|NHS/CAMHS - learn more
The NHS/CAMHS website has a whole host of topics along with exercises and resources from mental health charities and it is a superb one-stop page.
|Stem4 - learn more
Stem4 is a charity that began in 2011 and this website has some excellent summaries but the founder, Dr Nihara Krause, has helped develop a number of apps (Calm Harm, Clear Fear and Combined Minds) and all are available free from the app store.
|Barnardo's - learn more
Barnardo’s has produced a summary of potential issues and tips and this one-page read can be found on the link above. It is an accessible blog.
They also provide support services and an initial exploration of those can be found here.
|Young Minds - learn more
Young Minds is a charity whose focus is on young people and their mission of “all young minds are supported and empowered” is supported by a website full of ideas and resources. This section presents different ways in which help can be found.
|Mind - learn more
Mind has more detail on mental health problems and the link above highlights the range of mental health problems, the drugs and treatment available as well as sources of support.
|Mental Health Foundation - learn more
Mental Health Foundation was established in 1949 and their main vision is good mental health for all but they also focus on prevention of negative mental states. Their resource section is extensive with an excellent A-Z, podcasts and advice and can be accessed by clicking on the link above. Their regular newsletter sent via email is also easy to skim and access.