BLOG POST: How can we support young people through stress and anxiety?

BLOG POST: How can we support young people through stress and anxiety?

Published on Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Posted in News

BLOG POST: How can we support young people through stress and anxiety?

“Whatever you say, say nothing.” This 1975 poem by Irish poet Seamus Heaney spoke of the atmosphere of silence bred by the Troubles. It became the mantra that Northern Irish people lived by. Researchers suggest that this attitude of secrets and silence has been adopted by the younger generation. Considering ill mental health is at its peak in society today, we MUST do something about this.

The younger generation are living in completely different times. There is so much pressure...everywhere. Pressure to succeed, pressure financially, pressure to look and behave in accordance with society’s expectations. Over half of young people say they always or often feel anxious. Screen time is at an all-time-high and social media is the biggest consumer of time and energy. Consequently, the younger generation are lacking intimacy in personal relationships. According to a 2019 report by the Princes Trust, 41% of young people feel more comfortable behind a screen than in person. Their struggles with the most basic of interactions make articulating their inner thoughts and feelings an impossible task. What’s more, young people are living in constant comparison as they scroll through unrealistic representations of others’ day-to-day. And let’s face it, it’s a timeline of life’s best moments, edited and glamourised.

How then, can we support this generation to take steps towards achieving positive mental health? How can we assist them to reflect on what it is they are experiencing internally? This might seem like an impossible task.

Below are 10 ways to kick-start your thinking about how you can encourage positive mental health in the young people in your life.

  1. Ditch the Northern Irish mentality of ‘saying nothing’.
  2. Eat dinner together; implement a phone ban around the table. Interaction and connection are fundamental to positive mental health.
  3. Ask them how their day was, but be careful to avoid the questioning game that tends to feel more like an invasion to a young person.
  4. Be consistent. Consistency of a significant person in a young person’s life plays a crucial role in resilience.
  5. Accept them - even if their opinion differs from yours. This is not a rejection of you. This is just part of their development and becoming their own individual.
  6. Show interest in their interests. It’s empowering for a young person to have someone who listens and allows them to express their passions.
  7. Praise them in their achievements. But also in their efforts. If praise only exists when they achieve, they’re likely to attach their worth to always succeeding. And let’s face it – that’s an impossible goal!
  8. Drop the stereotypes. Ever heard the saying ‘big boys don’t cry’? The suicide rate of young boys is so high, reports showing that they talk about issues to a lesser extent than their female counterparts. Males struggle too. 
  9. Be mindful of your child’s media use. Constant scrolling can lead to feelings of isolation and constant comparison festers feelings of inadequacy.
  10. Be a role model and take care of your own mental health; make time for things you enjoy and fingers crossed they’ll follow suit!


Tags: Anxiety | AWARE | Blog post | Depression | Mental Health | Stress | Young People