The summer holidays are now upon us, marking the end of what has been a strange and challenging academic year for children, young adults and parents. As parents we have been juggling our own commitments, uncertainties and concerns while trying to also provide support and love to our children, who have seen their world’s disrupted in a way that can seem grossly unfair and confusing.
We have all heard first-hand accounts of cancelled or postponed exams, disappointment over missing out on marking the end of a school era and concerns about an uncertain job market and employment prospects for young people. On top of this layer is increased social isolation and disruption to routines and there is certainly justification for feeling de-motivated and down. A recent survey from YoungMinds found that 80% of young people reported a deterioration in their mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak and this is supported by findings of a Mind survey, which found that 85% of Children and Young People saw boredom have a negative effect on their mental health. It is well-known that motivation, creativity and mental health are intrinsically linked and feeling a lack of purpose is a natural by-product.
As we have previously written here, 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 and this has been exacerbated with recent events.
Whether the pressure is emotional, environmental, physical or related to life changes, 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. Crucial 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 lines of communication open with honest conversations is key and will help our young people navigate through these difficult and confusing times. None of this is new but a timely reminder that we all need to be aware of our own and other’s trigger points and coping mechanisms.
We provide support to parents locally through various channels and have a team of experienced mental health professionals who run workshops on specific topics. Our aim is to dispel myths and develop a better 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. During lockdown we have seen an increase in parents asking for guidance in supporting a child who is self-harming. We want to ensure that if this is something you are facing that you are able to seek and find the appropriate support.
This is a hugely confusing and challenging time for parents who instinctively want to keep their children safe. We run short self-harm workshops ran by experienced facilitators, which have proven hugely successful in creating a safe space for parents and care-givers to better understand what their child is experiencing.
It also offers a space to gain invaluable support from people who are experiencing or have experienced similar so that you don’t feel alone. If you are interested in learning more then please do reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next self-harm course will run on Wednesday 30th September, 10am-12noon, via Zoom.
We also stress to all parents that you cannot pour from an empty cup and that self-care has to be a priority, especially when you are supporting others.
We are all guilty of thinking we are too busy to dedicate time to ourselves but self-care is not selfish and can be as simple as incorporating small punctuations throughout your day that help to release pressure from our stress buckets.
For more information on our services, please visit www.westkentmind.org.uk.
You can contact us at the following email addresses:
• email@example.com (for training in schools)
• firstname.lastname@example.org (for enquiries about courses for
individuals or organisations)
• email@example.com (for general enquiries or support)