What can i do to help a young person?

Young people have a much better chance of recovery if their problems are identified early. This is why it is important for you to be familiar with common signs and symptoms to be aware of which may suggest that a young person is suffering.

You can find out more about the signs and symptoms of mental health by clicking here.

It is helpful to encourage a child or young person to see their mental health problem as just a difficult period in their life from which they can get better. Some children even manage to overcome their mental health problem with just a little help and guidance.

 It is important not to dismiss or play down a child’s mental health problem as this may make them think you don’t care or that you see their problems as insignificant. It can be difficult working with a child or young person who is experiencing a mental health problem. It’s essential, therefore, to look after your own health and wellbeing. You cannot be there to help and support a child or young person if you are not feeling well yourself.

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Asking a child or young person how they feel can be difficult, but it is important to do. The young person or child may not feel confident enough to share this. If they really don’t want to talk, don’t push them; they will talk when they are ready, but it is important they know that you are there for them.

The best thing to do before you talk to the child or young person, it’s a good idea to think about what you want to say. Ask open questions which will let the child or young person to explain and open-up.

Be calm and supportive and don’t make judgemental comments about how they are feeling.

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Although you need to ensure that you respect the young person’s privacy, it is vital you make it clear that not all information may be able to be kept confidential. Explain to a young person that any information which puts them or others at risk will need to be passed on to relevant parties.

If a child or young person struggles to talk about how they feel, or has communication difficulties, encourage them to write things down, draw how they feel or use music. It is important for them to try and find a way to express themselves which is helpful for them.

Having an understanding of common mental health problems in children and young people, as well as knowing what signs and symptoms to look out for, will help you to understand more about how a young person may be feeling.

Try to talk about mental health more, and ask questions, encouraging a young person to seek further help if you notice they are struggling.

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A good way of helping their confidence is to not just focus on their mental health problem but concentrate on their qualities and what they do well. This will inspire the child to do the same. Praise them and encourage them to try out new activities to help to build their confidence and increase their social interaction.

Remember to ask a young person what they think will help them - often they will have ideas that you are unaware of.