It’s coming to the end of #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek and we have been thinking about the children and young people we are currently supporting in different capacities.
There are lots of resources out there to support and help, but sometimes even that can feel overwhelming, and where do you start?
We often find that although we are not mental health experts in any way, children and young people turn to us for support because we are familiar, trusted, and associated with fun times in their life. We do what we can to support and signpost these young people to guidance from professionals, but sometimes what they really want is for someone they know to listen to them- someone who they have shared a creative space with, who they have laughed with, who they know sees them for who they are and want to be.
What we have noticed from our contact with children and young people over recent months is that all structure has been taken away. Pre-Covid life consisted of regular activity: school; sixth form; after school and weekend activities; parties; events; work – and not only has this gone, but all the low-level activity that accompanied it – getting up in time; arranging to meet; getting to class on time; making sure you have handed stuff in; negotiating people in spaces; getting home in time for food; getting changed and ready for any after school activity… All gone. It’s been replaced with a very reduced and restricted version of ‘life’, and everything happening within the confinements of their homes.
Many of them have said it’s hard to concentrate at the moment- that watching or reading new things is difficult, that learning a new skill requires a lot of effort and focus that they just don’t have. It’s important to recognise that it’s not only the big stuff that’s changed, it’s all the little stuff too.
We are incredibly fortunate to be in the position to see children and young people grow into young adults and be part of their developmental journey, and we take our small role in their lives very seriously.
So, armed with this responsibility, and recognising that often the child or young person is reaching out to us as humans, we have put together a little list of things that can be easily done to help support mental health – things that we as a team do to make our lives a little bit calmer, clearer, happier and creative.
- Plan low level activity – create little lists that are achievable – get out of bed, make lunch, call someone for a chat, make shortbread. But don’t feel bad if you don’t do any of it. Tomorrow is another day.
- Try and do something every day that uses your hands- cook, bake, tidy, fix, make, prune, write, doodle – something that at the end of the day you can see, is tangible.
- Make your environment lovely – maybe put some pictures up of places you have been or would like to go. Frame them or blue tack them to the wall.
- Call a mate. Not just text, call. Have a chat. It doesn’t need to be an epic one, just 5 minutes where you talk and listen to another human.
- Nurture a plant – get one that’s not too fussy – peace lilies are great – and put it in your room so you can see it every day. If you like a fun plant, Red Oxalis like to follow the light and close their leaves at night – it’s a little bit lovely.
- Get a bird feeder and put it near your window (or a stick on a window one). Fill with seed and lose yourself for minutes at a time as the birds enjoy what’s on offer.
- Write a letter/postcard to someone and post to them. Then trot away happily from the postbox knowing someone is going to get some positive post.
- Go outside. It can be for a walk or just to stand outside for a few moments. take some deep breaths.
- Go on a regular walk notice the changes – a tree coming into leaf bud, puddles across grassy spaces, flowers blooming.
- Do some focussed breathing – Lucy has made a video of the breathing we do before a show at Forest Forge. It is just as relevant in “real life” as it is half an hour before we open a show.
Mostly, be easy on yourself. This is hard. Really hard. Recognising and accepting that is actually a bit of a relief! Find the little things that make you feel a little lighter.
And remember, the sun always rises.
If you find yourself struggling, there is no shame in reaching out and getting support. Mind is a mental health charity with tools, resources, and support, to help you through challenging times.