Whilst we have made huge strides forward in our awareness of mental health and its impact on children and young people, particularly since the lockdowns, therapy still sits on an interesting line.
Frequently, I talk to so many young people, parents and professionals who still find that whilst we talk about ‘Mental Health Matters’, it has a tendency to become a bumper sticker which has a lack of follow through.
Schools are often underfunded to provide therapy, often only being able to offer support to a tiny percentage of young people in their care, GPs lack access to funding to refer and waiting lists for CAMHS continue to be extensive.
It becomes a frustrating and impactful issue, not only does it affect a young person’s well-being, but also their education, social relationships, family life, parent’s employment it holds risk factors for those whose mental health escalates without intervention.
The most frustrating thing, is that whilst therapy is more widely spoken about, it is often offered as a last resort, which means that young people need to stay in therapy for longer, and are often at a point where their self-esteem is so low they can feel that they do not deserve it, or that nothing will work.
Changing the dialogue
So, here’s 5 reasons why we need to change the dialogue about therapy and stop using it as a crash sign, and rather as a self-care strategy:
#1. Therapy offers a space to learn coping mechanisms
When therapy is used as self-care it allows young people to be able to work through worries, anxieties and challenges in real time, and learn strategies to manage or resolve them before they escalate. Finding a therapist who you can use for block and one off sessions can allow young people to engage as they need help, rather than waiting for problems to build up.
#2. Therapy allows us to feel validated
When we attend therapy, it allows us a safe space to feel heard and validated without fear of causing distress or worry to others. Often, young people can worry about the impact of their thoughts or feelings on their loved ones, therapy allows them a safe space to process these which often encourages them to open up to family.
#3. Therapy helps us develop a growth mindset
When we engage in therapy, we learn tools and strategies to develop a growth mindset, which increases our resilience and self-esteem, as well as problem solving strategies for the future. When we develop a growth mindset it supports us as a protective factor for our well-being in the future.
#4. Without our mental health everything else struggles
When our mental health falters, so does our physical health, cognitive abilities, social interactions, confidence and self-esteem. When our physical health complains we take ourselves to the GP or take a day off to rest, if we have this same attitude to our mental health and use therapy in the way that we use a GP we can intervene faster, reduce the impact and improve outcomes.
#5. It helps us to express ourselves
Many young people (and adults) struggle with their emotional intelligence and expression. Socially, they have had to grow up quickly, particularly with the development of social media, but can find expressing themselves challenging. Therapy teaches us to reflect, explore and develop our connections between mind and body. This consequently develops our emotional literacy which helps us to respond to our mental health quicker in the future.
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