Youth Mental Health Day 7th September 2021
Youth Mental Health Day - 7th September 2021
Youth Mental Health Day is dedicated to discussion, education and support for the mental health of young people. Many young people fear talking about how they may be struggling with many aspects of life and Youth Mental Health Day offers encouragement, resources and education for those young people who find themselves in need of support. Youth Mental Health Day aims to reduce the fear in young people by minimising and working through the stigma associated with mental health and aims to address the underlying issue. 
Did you know that in 2019, research showed that 12.5% of young people aged between 5-19 years old had at least one mental health disorder and 5% of this age group were considered to have two or more?  This is prior to the Covid pandemic and with the lockdown restrictions, the limitations of meeting with loved ones and the disruption to education, this figure is now at 16% . The same research in 2019 showed that half of lifetime mental health problems start by mid-teens and three quarters by mid 20's. This is why Youth Mental Health Day is so important. Young people need help and support early on in their life in order for mental health problems to be worked through so that they do not become lifelong problems.
The most common mental health issues experienced by young people are anxiety and depression and these issues increase between the ages of 16 and 24. Certain groups in society are at a higher risk of mental health disorders and these are :
Ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers
Low socio-economic households
Children in the care system or under professional services
Young people in the Youth Justice System
Young people with learning difficulties
So how do we work with young people in the therapy room?
Every therapist has their own way of working and over time we all figure out some of our most effective methods. As we know, every client is individual and what will work with one, won't necessarily be effective for another. However, here are some ideas, examples and suggestions on ways in which therapists could work, in the hope that it may help some of you when working with children and young people.
Music Therapy - a great resource for accessing different emotions
Art Therapy - using creative methods, different media and worksheets etc is a great way of working with children who have difficulty talking about how they feel or who lack the emotional intelligence due to age or development.
Play Therapy - a fantastic way to build trust and confidence within a young person. This can either be through free play with a wide range of toys that the child can choose for themselves or through an organised, structured board game where you play along too.
There are obviously ethical and legal requirements to consider before working with children and young people.
- Using knowledge of child development and assessing the child/young person's stage of development.
- Using knowledge of attachment theory can help assess a child's attachment style to aid your approach.
- Using theory and ideas from Donald Winnicott and his notion of "Good enough Mothering."
- Ensuring the language you use is appropriate to the age and stage of development of the child.
- Checking Gillick competency of those under 16.
There are some wonderful websites available with resources to use when working with children and young people. Please do check out the links in both the reference list and the recommended sites list as there is a huge amount of useful information. I highly recommend the STEM 4 website which is the charity who promotes Youth Mental Health Day.
I hope that this article has been useful and that if nothing else, it puts Youth Mental Health at the forefront of your mind today!
 Supporting teenage mental health (2021) "Youth Mental Health Day," available at https://stem4.org.uk/youthmentalhealthday/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwssyJBhDXARIsAK98ITRKXh2v4ur_L8Gb2d5TAztebyJy7-S9UcXtodgE-FX76lpsjc1pMQ8aAivKEALw_wcB
 Public Health England, (2019) "Guidance: Children and Young People," available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/better-mental-health-jsna-toolkit/5-children-and-young-people
 Centre for Mental Health (2021), "Children and Young People's Mental Health; The Facts," available athttps://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-02/CYP%20mental%20health%20fact%20sheet%202021.pdf