We were speaking at a National Headteacher’s conference about resilience in 2018. Whilst at the conference we also heard a Paediatric Neurologist and an Educational Psychologist speak.
Here’s what I was inspired to write as a result:
What is happening with mental illness? We seem to be drowning in a society of unhappy, dysfunctional people. Did you see the mental health stats for children in the UK? It made grim reading.
Here is some of what I read:
- 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.
- 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
- 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem
Last week was child mental health week and when these stats were published there was a usual flurry of concern in the media. What was going wrong? Who is to blame? What can we do?
There can appear to be many complicated ‘reasons’. The pressure of exams, the stress of social media, broken families, the drug culture, gangs, peer pressure….. you get the picture.
When we start to try and fix all these ‘reasons’ we can feel paralysed with the enormity of it all.
However maybe we are over-complicating something that is actually very simple.
I have an idea. It’s a very simple answer to mental health. If you want to make a real difference to young people, then just go and listen to a child/adolescent. You don’t need to be clever, give advice or fix them, just go and be with them. Hear their world.
Help them to see that wonderful core of resilience that they have inside and show them how to get back in touch with it.
This sentiment was brought home by a Psychologist and a Paediatric Neurologist last week. They were talking about the teenage brain at a conference for Head teachers in Birmingham (we were running a workshop there).
When I asked Dr Andrew Curran (the Paediatric Neurologist) what we could do to support our young people he said: ‘The best thing you can do as adults is to unlearn your ego.’
In other words we need to be present to teenagers. Here was a man who has a wealth of information and knowledge at his fingertips and yet what he was pointing to was connection.
Whilst writing this article I checked out Dr Andrew Curran’s website and was struck by another quote. He says:
“Twenty-five years of neurobiological research tells us that children learn best when they feel loved.”
There was also a simple idea from the Educational Psychologist (Dr Juliet Starbuck). She shared a mass of information, but there was one thing she said that landed deeply for me. She encouraged teachers and educationalists to ‘be human’.
What I heard in this (for adults to ‘be human’) was for us to drop our mask and connect to our authenticity. Show youngsters its ok to feel the whole range of feelings from the human experience. Help teenagers to go beyond the cognitive brain and connect at that deeper level.
Maybe there is real hope for mental health and young people. Maybe it’s not as complicated as we really think. Maybe we all intuitively know what to do. Maybe it is all about love, connection and presence.
What if it really is as simple as that?
What if the answer is love.
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About Liz Scott & Stuart Newberry
Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are Coaching Skills trainers and 3P practitioners. They help develop coaching cultures within schools and organisations. Liz & Stu use their understanding of the 3Ps within their training and are experiencing great successes and results in the organisations they are working in. Download an Introduction to the Three Principles here.
Want to de-stress in just 28 days? Recharge on the Run is a FREE audio series (delivered to your inbox daily) that will help you discover your inner peace of mind. Find out more about Liz & Stu at Liz Scott Coaching and Training