As part of our #NoStigma campaign, our team at St Patrick's Mental Health Services (SPMHS) explores how we can support young people’s mental health.
Young people’s lives were particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. School and college life was disrupted, and the usual social outlets, like football training or meet-ups with friends, interrupted for long periods of time. These, among other changes, will have been difficult to deal with, especially at a time of life when social development and relationships are so important.
While we shouldn’t underestimate the resilience and adaptability of young people, it’s also vital that their mental health and wellbeing is prioritised and supported. This is important within family and friend groups, but also among the wider community.
Paul Gilligan, our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) here in SPMHS, has highlighted that protecting children’s welfare and mental health must be a priority. He gives the tips below to support young people’s mental health in daily life, particularly during the pandemic.
- Encourage them to continue socialising face-to-face with their peers, while following restrictions. This can include, for example, meeting a friend for a physically distanced walk or taking part in sports, as and when safe to do so. It’s also important to avoid over-use of online communication and social media.
- Ensure they demonstrate physical affection to the people they can, when they can, and remind them there will be a time when they can return to doing this with their friends and family.
- Allow them to talk about how sad, angry, or upset they are with the restrictions and the losses they have experienced, without making them feel guilty or ashamed that they are letting others down or are being weak.
- Put information and risks into perspective for them and teach them how to manage these risks and any associated worry.
Learning more about children's mental health
If you would like to learn more about supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing, you might find it helpful to visit our flagship mental health education campaign, Walk in My Shoes (WIMS). WIMS has a specific focus on young people’s wellbeing; you can visit the WIMS website to learn more about its different initiatives and browse through different resources and information.
Youth mental health champions
WIMS is delighted to offer Transition Year (TY) students in Ireland the opportunity to take part in a one-week mental health awareness placement during its annual Transition Year Programme. The programme is conducted by clinical staff here at SPMHS, and empowers young people to return to their schools and communities as mental health champions.
Child-friendly information and advice
Young people can find out more about how to practice self-care by watching this webinar with mental health experts from our team here at SPMHS, organised by our WIMS campaign.
Our CEO Paul Gilligan also shares tips with children on the things they can do to pick themselves up when they feel down: watch the video here.
You can find more child-friendly information and resources related to the pandemic and staying well here.
Getting parenting tips and advice
We’ve put together a list of further tips, resources and sources of support that might be helpful for parents.
Guidance and training
WIMS held a webinar for parents on supporting children’s mental health, which you can watch below.
You might also be interested in this training course run by the National Parent’s Council (NPC), in partnership with our team at SPMHS. ‘Supporting Parents to Support Their Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing’ helps parents to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in their children. The programme also explores how building resilience in children helps them to manage and cope with life stresses. Parents who attend the training will:
- Explore the factors that influence children’s mental health and wellbeing
- Learn how to build and nurture their child’s resilience
- Get tips on how best to support positive wellbeing in their child.
Blogs, podcasts and videos
Follow the links below to get more information on a range of parenting topics.
- How to keep young people motivated at home
- Helping your child maintain a healthy sleep routine during COVID-19
- Supporting students through COVID-19 and lockdown
- How to address children’s fears about coronavirus
- Supporting young people with physical distancing measures
- Supporting young people as society reopens
Support and information
To learn about your local mental health services, Freephone 1800 111 888 or visit yourmentalhealth.ie from the HSE.
Jigsaw is a national mental health support service for young people aged 12 to 25. Its website has lots of advice and information on youth mental health, and you can find your local Jigsaw service here.
Supporting Children is an online information hub about services for children, young people and families, including those with additional needs.
You can also find out about our services for adolescents or speak to an experienced mental health nurse through our Support and Information Line, which runs from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, by calling 01 249 3333.
This article was originally published as part of a #NoStigma partnership with Shelbourne FC.
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See more from #NoStigma
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