When is Mental Health Awareness Month?
The Mental Health Foundation has announced that ‘loneliness‘ is the theme for this year’s mental health awareness week (9th-15th May). This comes as part of Mental Health Awareness Month in May. This theme stems from research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, which found that loneliness and its detrimental effect on mental health have been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. Their poll concluded that loneliness was the leading issue that the general public felt needed addressing in 2022.
In this post, we are highlighting some of the key issues and resources available in support of mental health. We are focussing on supporting the mental health of young men in particular.
Why is it important to support the Mental Health of young people?
Recent NHS campaigns have resulted in more and more adults accessing support, but young people are much less likely to know when or how to seek help. Problems in mental health that are left untreated will have a significant negative effect on a person’s educational and social development. Mentally healthy young people are much more likely to succeed in adulthood. Faced with challenges and setbacks, they learn from them.
Below are some startling statistics:
- A 2019 YouGov poll found that 69% of 13-19-year-olds reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’.
- The Mental Health Foundation reported that rates of anxiety and depression in teenagers have increased by 70% in the last 25 years.
- 50% of people with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14.
- 10% of boys under the age of 19 with a mental health condition get suspended or excluded from school.
Supporting Mental Health in Young Men
There is a strong indication that young men, particularly, are at risk. Educators and support workers who work with young men will no doubt have witnessed them struggle with their emotions at times. This could be down to a number of factors – a challenging home life, exam stress or they may be having difficulty with their mental health.
Men’sHealth reported that nearly 10% of men experience symptoms of depression daily; 1 in 5 men will develop an alcohol dependency during their lifetime; worryingly, male suicide – the ‘silent epidemic’ – is the second most common cause of death in men from the age of 10 to 39.
Support workers and educators have the responsibility to spot the signs early and make sure that young men are aware of where to find support and information:
- Watch out for the ‘macho attitude’ of ignoring or bottling up feelings under the banner of ‘manning up.’ Reassure young men that it is OK to feel depressed, it is OK to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Spread the message that suffering in silence will not help: it’s OK to talk about it.
- Provide opportunities for the young people you support and work with to be open and honest about their feelings.
- Where appropriate, be a ‘mental health role model’ and demonstrate how opening up about your mental health issues can have huge benefits.
Every individual is different, and staff working as part of a support network that aims to build positive relationships with each student is the best way to aid mental health. Having said that, there are general signs that you can keep an eye on in class that may indicate someone is suffering. You may want to talk to coworkers about the best course of action if you notice a sudden change in any of the following:
- Levels of concentration
- Frequence of distraction from work
- Increase in worrying or fretting
- Loss of interest
- General low mood
- Irritability and short temper
- Appearing overwhelmed
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Struggling to regulate emotions
- seeming tired and sleepy
- Avoiding tasks or activities they previously enjoyed
Useful Resources for Supporting Mental Health in Young Men:
- Movember has a fantastic conversation guide for men going through a difficult time. This resource is really helpful if you know someone you’d to support but feel unsure about what to say.
- Stride has a range of lesson plans and activities on topics such as:
- Managing Friendships & Relationships
- Managing Change
- Being Left Out
- Social Media and Positive Mental Health
- Managing Peer Pressure
- Beneden Health has a lovely guide to spotting the signs and having supportive conversations with young adults.
- Read: In Conversation with a Student Support Services Mentor, where one of our university mentors discusses strategies she has used to support a young man having difficulties with his mental health.
- Read: Resources and strategies during Children’s Mental Health Week 2022
The mental health foundation has a range of resources aimed at raising awareness and encouraging others to seek support for their mental health:
- A school pack on ‘finding our connections‘ can be downloaded for free or with an optional donation.
- There’s a run, jog or walk 80 miles in May challenge to raise funds. Mileage can be tracked via the Strava app, and to sign up and receive a free water bottle, join the FaceBook group.
- You can order the official Green Ribbon pin badges for your setting.
Support for Children and Young People
If you or someone you know is going through a crisis there are organisations that can help:
Childline Free for children and young people in the UK, 24 hours a day
Shout Free for anyone in the UK, 24 hours a day
Text CONNECT to 85258
Thank you for reading our post on supporting mental health in young men during mental health awareness month. If you would like to find out more about working with Prospero Student Support Services, then get in touch with the team.