Mental health mythbusters
Attention seeking, violent and unpredictable. These are some unfortunately common misconceptions about young people with mental health issues. Clare, one of our emotional health and well-being practitioners, tells us why they're not true and how we can all be more supportive to young people who are battling mental heath.
mental health issues attention seeking
Sadly, many people believe that mental health issues are attention seeking behaviours, especially in young people. This is not the case. Young people have a lot going on in their lives and it's too dismissive to simply assume it's attention-seeking.
Everyone has different ways of expressing how they're feeling, whether it's acting out or keeping everything bottled up. We must be aware, however they're behaving, that a young person may be trying to tell us they need help. We can't dismiss it. We have a duty to listen to what is going on and work out how we can support them.
Violent and unpredictable
False. Young people with mental health issues are not all violent and unpredictable. Whilst there are some instances where mental health difficulties can lead to violence, these are not the majority. In fact, young people (and adults) with mental health issues can be more in danger of people being violent towards them.
mental health and functioning in society
Struggle to function
Another misconception is that young people with mental health issues struggle to function in day-to-day life. This could be true in some cases but often young people continue to go to school, see their friends, do their work. Mental health issues aren't always obvious.
This does not however mean they are completely fine. If we become aware they are finding things hard, we should encourage them to talk to someone and prevent the issues from getting any worse.
It's helped me just knowing there's someone to talk to
Sign of weakness
This is probably one of the most damaging misconceptions relating to youth mental health. It's not a sign of weakness to have a mental health issue, or to ask for help. Growing up is tough and young people show incredible strength in taking on all of life's challenges.
If a young person is going through a difficult patch, let them know it's fine to talk to someone. Seeking help for our mental health should be as normal as seeing a GP about an ear ache. You can visit your GP to find out about the mental health services that are available for young people and adults in your area.
With us for life
Lastly, some young people may feel like their mental health issues will last forever. This isn't usually the case. Mental health is a spectrum and it changes across the course of our life. Many mental health issues can be worked through if the right support is there.
After months of lockdown, we all need to look after our mental health and well-being. Tomorrow, World Mental Health Day, is a reminder to do just that. Remember to look out for others and give young people the support they need to stay hopeful.