Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Young people and mental health in a changing world

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Young people and mental health in a changing world

9 October 2018

Mental health… we all have it.  Good days, bad days, sad days, days where we are completely overwhelmed and unsure as to where to turn.

Societal changes in recent years has seen a rise in young people experiencing a variety of mental health difficulties. We believe there are many factors pertaining to this including influences from social media, exam stress, feeling pressured to look a certain way and fitting in to an ever changing world.

Here in Coventry we are noticing an increase in the number of young people accessing the service that use substances as a way of coping with their mental health.  Whilst some may be experimenting, others report using them to feel calmer, more relaxed or confident in social settings. When explored, the young person may reflect and recognise that there is an element of self-medicating with substances in order to ease their feelings of anxiety or depression or to build their self-esteem. We encourage young people to identify the links between their substance use, behaviour and changes to their emotional and mental wellbeing, which may be exacerbating their substance use and hindering their recovery.

At Positive Choices - Coventry, we work with children as young as five that are displaying feelings of sadness, worry, fear, rejection and social isolation in response to parental substance misuse. When this is explored through early intervention it has a positive outcome on a young person’s mental health and wellbeing.  Occasionally, these feelings can manifest in different ways such as engaging in risk taking behaviour this could include poor relationships, poor sexual health, substance misuse and an increased vulnerability to CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation).

We have seen the benefits of educating young people to recognise when things are not ok, to know that they have a right to always feel safe and to be able to respond appropriately and seek help when things go wrong. With a focus on coping skills, support networks and safety planning we are striving to increase emotional resilience; to empower young people, improve their wellbeing and have access to the relevant mental health services.

With more input from the media and education, arguably more people are talking about mental health and, therefore, the stigma is slowly reducing. However, there is still stigma attached to those that seek support for substance misuse. Given the harmful impact substance use can have on a young person who is still developing - be it on their brain, body, or emotional wellbeing - we as a society should be applauding and encouraging someone that has found the courage to seek support.

If you are a young person living in Coventry that is affected by their own or someone else’s substance use or is engaging in risk taking behaviour; please give us a call on 02476 010245 to find out more about the support that we can offer you.