At Lidl we are proud to support Jigsaw.ie the national centre for youth mental health. Every day, across 13 centres in Ireland, Jigsaw advance the mental health of young people, aged 12-25, by influencing change, strengthening communities and delivering services through their innovative evidence-informed early intervention and prevention approach. They offer professional and confidential clinical care to a young person, free of charge, when and where they need it most. You can find more info on www.jigsaw.ie or visit our A Better Tomorrow site to learn more about our work in the community. The below content has been developed by our charity partner Jigsaw-the national centre for youth mental health
Ten things you can do right now to support a young person’s mental health
1. Do listen
When communicating with a young person, it’s important to remember to listen. This sounds obvious but in fact it can be difficult to resist the urge to jump in and offer your point of view. Listening more than you talk is a good starting point. Being a good listener takes skill and a lot of effort – it doesn’t necessarily come naturally.
2. Do give
Give young people time – again this may seem obvious but it’s critical to really give young people time and attention if you want them to experience you as a good listener. We have all had the experience, at one time or another, of trying to say something important to someone who was not really listening to us. They may have given this away by fidgeting, looking at something over our shoulder, checking their watch, interrupting us. Can you recall how it made you feel? It likely wasn’t a particularly pleasant feeling, and you probably didn’t really feel listened to, understood or even important in that moment. If you are not in a position to listen attentively to a young person it is better to tell them and try to find a better time.
3. Don’t judge
One of the reasons why young people might not open up to adults in their lives is due to fear of being judged. Try to convey to the young person in your life that you are not here to judge them but simply to listen. Assure them that no matter what they tell you that you will still care about them and be there for them, that you will not think any less of them. Separating out a person’s behaviour from the person themselves can help us to manage our tendency towards judgement. A related trap we can fall into is jumping to conclusions. Once we start jumping to conclusions we have stopped listening, and rather than truly hearing the story from the young person we are rushing ahead to make up the ending in our own minds. So don’t fall into these traps – keep an open mind and allow yourself to really hear what is being said not what you think is being said or will be said.
4. Do normalise
Young people can often feel embarrassed or ashamed about their struggles. They often feel very alone as if they are the only one experiencing these challenges. It is important to normalise a young person’s feelings and reassure them. You can start by making sure you really listen to what is going on for that young person, and asking how they feel about it. Let them know that they are not alone.
5. Do seek support
It is very important to seek support from a healthcare professional when a young person in your life appears to be struggling with their mental health. Remember we all will experience different levels of good and poor mental health throughout our lifetime, and just like you would take your young person to the dentist if they had a toothache the same is true for supporting a young person to seek help and support for their mental health sooner rather than later.
6. Do encourage involvement
Encourage your young person to get involved in clubs, sports, groups, and activities that are of interest to them. Being part of a community, contributing, and being involved with others will all help to encourage good mental health and selfconfidence in young people. It is important to allow them to explore and find the activities and interests that are meaningful to them personally.
7. Do encourage exercise and play
Our mental and physical health are closely linked. It is important for young people to get regular exercise and to stay active. Young people may find they enjoy playing a certain sport, walking, running, swimming, and many other forms of play and exercise.
8. Don’t avoid
It can be tempting to avoid the difficult conversations, to say nothing and to hope it will all blow over. It is important that we don’t avoid or ignore the signs if we think a young person may be struggling. If you notice a change in a young person’s behaviour, ask them about it in a calm and supportive way. Some parents find young people are more likely to open up when they are doing an activity together. Even going for a walk or going for a drive can create space and give you both the the opportunity to work up the courage to talk about what you see and feel.
9. Don’t panic
It is important to stay calm and curious when a young person opens up to you. A young person may reveal that they are experiencing bullying, experimenting with a new activity/behaviour or even disclose self-harm. It is important to help the young person to feel safe and supported while also accessing the correct supports for them. It is important to remain calm, open to hearing more, and stable. This will help to keep the conversation open, and will give you chance to find out more about what is happening for the young person.
10. Do seek your own supports
We are better able to provide good quality care and support for a young person in our lives when we feel supported ourselves.
See more on www.jigsaw.ie