As a charity one of our main focuses is on early intervention and, for this article, we are putting the spotlight on our children.
West Kent Mind work closely with many schools and sports organisations to raise awareness of youth mental health issues, educating parents, teachers and those working or living with young people, as well as young people themselves. We believe this work is more crucial than ever, with Public Health England reporting that 50% of mental health issues are established by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24. Enabling our children to talk openly about their thoughts and feelings is crucial.
The sources of stress for our children are not hugely different to our own, but it is widely agreed that children are under more pressure than ever before. Whether the pressure is emotional (including social media, peer pressure or bullying), environmental (academic pressure or discrimination), physical (unhealthy sleep patterns, poor diet, lack of routine) or life changes (changing schools, family relationship breakdown or bereavement), everyone has a limit to what they can healthily cope with and this differs for everyone. We tend to focus, as parents, on the behavioural manifestations, which we may interpret or see as stroppy behaviour, monosyllabic responses, a lack of focus on school work, etc, when we may instead need to be more aware of what might be causing this behaviour. What is important is how, as adults, we listen, respond and validate their feelings, without undermining their significance. It is also of upmost importance that we are aware of our own judgements and preconceived perceptions.
Keeping channels of communication open will help to ensure that children and young people feel able to talk to you when things get tough. Having positive and supportive conversations and feeling heard enables the young person to feel that their concerns are being taken seriously. This will also enable the parent/carer to notice changes in behaviour, allowing for early intervention. It should not be underestimated how powerful good communication can be in preventing our children and young people from developing more serious mental health issues.
We provide support to parents locally through various channels. We work in schools where we not only train teachers, but talk to children about mental health awareness and offer youth mental health first aid courses for parents. We have a team of experienced mental health professionals who run workshops on specific topics where we dispel myths and develop an understanding through interactive talks and experience sharing. Just having the opportunity to talk with another parent who may have had or be having a similar experience can be very powerful and valuable. We also work with local sports clubs and youth organisations. We have recently developed a partnership with Hockey Club Knole Park, where we support the team with workshops and talks. Catherine Medlen, welfare officer at the club, recently attended our two day Youth Mental Health First Aid course in Sevenoaks. Catherine says: “The two day Youth Mental Health course helped me to gain a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing of young people. It has given me the confidence to spot signs of mental health issues and to be able to support a young person who may need help. A very valuable two days and highly recommended for anyone in contact with children and young people”
February 3rd-9th 2020 marks Children’s Mental Health Week and this year’s theme is “Find Your Brave”, a way to help young people build their confidence and self-esteem and feel good about themselves. (see place2be.org.uk for more details). While we run our workshops and courses throughout the year, we are hosting two youth focused courses during this week- a one day Youth Mental Health First Aid Champion course on Monday, 3rd February and a Understanding Self-harm workshop on Wednesday, 5th February. Details of both events can be found in the events section here. The education and learning gained from these courses will equip you with the skills need to help support a young person in need.
So, this year, we urge you to educate yourself but also to look after your own wellbeing as you can’t support your children if you are not taking care of your own health, both physical and mental.
For additional information or support please contact:
• Your GP
• West Kent Mind 01732 744950
• YoungMinds Parent’s Helpline via www.youngminds.org.uk
• Shout Text 85258
For more information on our services, please visit www.westkentmind.org.uk
You can contact us at the following email addresses:
• firstname.lastname@example.org (for training in schools)
• email@example.com (for enquiries about courses for individuals or organisations)
• firstname.lastname@example.org (for general enquiries or support)
UPCOMING EVENTS & TRAINING
Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) certified courses:
• Monday 3rd – MHFA Youth 1 day
• Friday 7th & Wednesday 12th – MHFA Adult 2 day
• Tuesday 25th – MHFA Adult 1 Day (Tunbridge Wells)
• Wednesday 11th – MHFA Adult 1 day
• Wednesday 18th & 25th March – MHFA Adult 2 Day (Tunbridge Wells)
• Monday 23rd & Friday 27th – MHFA Youth 2 day
• Wednesday 1st & Thursday 2nd – MHFA Adult 2 day
• Tuesday 28th – MHFA Adult 1 day
OTHER COURSES & WORKSHOPS
• Wednesday, 5th February – Self-Harm Workshop (10am-12pm, Tunbridge Wells)
• Wednesday, 5th February- Workplace Wellbeing Workshop (1-2pm, Tunbridge Wells)
All courses are in Sevenoaks unless stated otherwise.