Advocacy, Coronavirus

12 August, 2021

#NoStigma | How can we support children and young people’s mental health?

Photo of a young man walking in a field, seen from behind, with the text "Stigma doesn't matter, I do"

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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.

This article was originally published as part of a #NoStigma partnership with Shelbourne FC.

See more from #NoStigma

See more from #NoStigma

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