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When money gets in the way of mental health

There are many reasons young people aren't getting the mental health support they need. Some don't know where to look. Maybe they feel shy about opening up. Or in some cases, it's a money thing. This week, our practitioners explore the link between poverty and mental health support. How might being from a poor background impact children's mental health?

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Making ends meet

Girl in the street smiles

Making ends meet

Young people have a lot to deal with at the best of times. But the last year has been especially hard on families living in poverty. The pandemic has meant many parents are finding it hard to make ends meet. Kaira explains ‘I think the society that we live in is becoming more and more separated as the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.’ 

When young people come to our service they are often ‘feeling like they're worthless, or there are people that are doing better than them.’ 

Poverty and mental health

We try to remind everyone that they just need to go at their own pace

Digital divide

Even though the service that Kaira provides is free, lockdown has made accessing it harder for young people in poverty.  

‘There's the technological gap that we’re having now because of Covid-19.’ 

‘Some people don’t have a phone or don't have a computer to access sessions. The service that I work for is a drop-in, and that used to be the beauty of it. Unfortunately, because of circumstances it can't be that right now.’ 

‘We try to manage how we can get them support. Do they need to borrow their Mum’s phone or a friend’s phone because they haven't got their own phone? Or do we then have to try booking a face-to-face?’ 

smiling young man

Our work ending child poverty

Children should not be held back by poverty. We work hard to make sure families can keep their children healthy, happy and hopeful, even when money is tight.

Social media and self-care

These days young people have social media to contend with. This can have a real-world impact on their mental health. It doesn’t help that they see influencers pampering themselves with the latest £200 facemasks or splashing out on an expensive spa day.  

Reframing what self-care means

‘There are many expensive things we have come to associate with well-being, which are not accessible to children in poverty.’

‘This is something we try to reframe. We tell them, you can also sit down when you have 10 minutes and just have a hot chocolate for yourself with a biscuit.’ 

'Also, there are young people that lie and say, actually my parent has a certain job when they don’t. It’s that embarrassment sometimes that I guess society, social media and peers have made them feel they have to lie about.’ 

We talk about what fits their lifestyle. We talk about what fits their lifestyle.

Spreading the word 

Kaira wants more young people to be aware of their well-being service. To know that it is free. To know there is someone there who cares. Only by spreading the word can we make sure young people, especially those living in poverty, can access mental health support. 

‘We try to ensure that we are accessible. People see therapy as costing hundreds of pounds an hour. So, when I tell people that I work for a service that does it for free, they’re shocked.’ 

You don't have to pay to ask for a bit of help.

‘It’s about making people aware of us. I think that's the way forward.’