Youth Work

It’s good to talk

The teens of today aren’t likely to remember the infamous mid-nineties BT adverts with the late, great Bob Hoskins telling us ‘it’s good to talk’, and although I’m not a telephone salesman, I stand by the sentiment, especially today.


It’s National Mental Health Awareness Day and this year’s theme is Psychological First Aid. I have been fortunate enough to work with the Oxfordshire mental health charity, Restore, recently and was amazed at the amount of courses available to support people currently struggling with poor mental health. They even run mental health first aid courses. Admittedly, I’ve not been in a position to take them up on the offer, but it covers awareness, what to look for, and how to support people, and I hope to join them for the two-day workshop in the future.

If we rewind back far enough into history, people who displayed signs of poor mental health were immediately consigned to Bedlam, deemed ‘crazy’, ‘off their rocker’, and in effect, not worth bothering with. They were a burden and dangerous to society, confined ever more to a cell. Changes came about, notably due to the work of Sirs William Ellis and James Crichton-Browne who ‘paved the way for ethical treatment of the mentally ill’ (Daily Mail, 2015). Thank goodness.

In the modern day, mental health treatment is more readily available with counselling, mentors, group workshops, 1:1 support, employment guidance, work and volunteering opportunities, and lots more besides, and I would urge anybody concerned about themselves or a loved one to approach charities such as Mind, SANE, and Rethink (to name a few).

For young people, it can be particularly difficult to access the right support. PCAMHS and CAMHS (mental health support for children) often have lengthy waiting lists – I’ve known nearly three months to be a regular response. Whilst it’s worrying enough that one in four adults (Mind) are struggling at any one time, it’s just as scary a thought that one in ten children (Young Minds) have a diagnosable condition and the wait for professional support can be such a long way away.

The Young Minds charity provides online support to our young people and some fantastic resources to enable them, along with their parents to begin essentially self-treating, with excellent professional guidance, helplines, and links to other websites too.

Young People deserve the best chances in life. There’s a video floating around online at the moment that makes the point that they are 20% of the population but 100% of our future. If we don’t support them now, the future looks bleak for our world and the figures are set to soar.

Young people today are in an ever-increasing fast-paced world with social media playing a big role in adding pressure on top of the usual exam stress, family issues, as well as the normal physical and psychological changes that occur in adolescents. The Papyrus charity want us to take note of the fact that the majority of suicides at present occur in the young, and again, they provide support, and you may have seen their campaigns across the internet.

Whilst social media can offer the world a lot (such as raising awareness of mental health, support for individuals and the network around them), our young people need the chance to live and enjoy the childhoods that they deserve. Turn that phone off for a few hours, allow your brain to rest by just dancing to some music, enjoy some special friends and family time. As adults, we should be supporting them to live full lives, but helping them in understanding that being that A grade student doesn’t really matter. It really isn’t the be all and end all.

We should promoting them to get out, run, and play in the great outdoors…and without going off on another tangent, we need to protect our parks for them. Please see the 38 degrees report in the link below. Getting back to nature is surprisingly healthy for us. Escape the rat run, turn off your media, and observe the changing planet, the peace and tranquillity, and the beauty of the sights, sounds, and smells around you. As I was told recently, use your lunch break wisely. Go on a health walk. That means forgetting that report that needs doing, not worrying about the stack of emails that need an ‘urgent’ response, and just getting away from it to have some well-earned ‘me’ time.

Sadly, there is still a great stigma attached to people with poor mental health. On World Mental Health Day we need to raise awareness of it and offer a hand to those in need. The World Mental Health Foundation asks us to grab a cup of tea and talk to people, and Young Minds are using the hashtag #HelloYellow. So, why not combine the two? Wear something yellow, sit down with a young person (one you know, don’t just pluck one from obscurity!) and a cup of tea (or squash/milk/hot chocolate; an ice cream or cake wouldn’t go amiss) and talk Mental Health. A frank, open, and honest discussion.

And if it’s not today, then tomorrow, or the day after, or the weekend, or next month. Just book it in the diary and do it. No excuses. Even better, walk via a park whilst it still exists, or take a picnic (yellow blanket?), and enjoy some yellow vitamin D at the same time. Please also donate to the Young Minds appeal:-

‘More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time’ (Young Minds).

Is the young person you care about away from home? University, maybe? Perhaps you can only contact them via phone, Skype, or another way (writing a letter is great for the soul, rather than email or text)? Whatever you do today, remember that mental health needs greater awareness, yellow is the new black (buttercup is this season’s colour so no excuse), and it only takes a few minutes to change a life with the sound of your voice.

It really is good to talk.






Mental Health Foundation
Papyrus (suicide prevention in the young)
Young Minds


1 thought on “It’s good to talk”

Leave a Reply