By Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Founder and CEO stem4
‘Young People and Mental Health in a changing world’ is the theme of today’s World Mental Health Day. It is a day, initiated by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness, get people talking and connected and to challenge stigma.
Young people of today are growing up in an era of rapid technological, political and social change. Technology’s effect on the 21st-century child and family is significant. Children and young people rely on technology for the majority of their play, entertainment and socialisation in a way that adults can’t begin to understand.
In addition, a report from the Youth Index (2017) confirmed that half of children and young people felt the pressures of getting a job were greater with the rising cost of living increasing faster than they could earn, whilst in the first quarter of this year, Government figures revealed an increase of adversities faced by children and young people including poverty and crime.
The Youth Index report also stated that one in four young people aged 16-25 didn’t feel in control of their lives with 61% saying that this was because they lacked self-confidence which held them back. Inevitability such change will have an impact on a young person’s mental health in addition to their behavioural, social and physical wellbeing.
In order to deal with the increasing risks posed by this changing world, it is essential that children and young people are given tools to help them develop the resilience needed to negotiate the adversities they face and develop the plethora of opportunities that lie ahead. To do this they need to learn how to look after their mental health and wellbeing since change is stressful.
One such tool is the ability to deal with negative thoughts promoted by the stem4’s ‘Think Positive, Go Purple’ slogan today. Whilst it’s perfectly normal to have negative thoughts, the problem arises when we start to believe them.
Here are some tips to help you think positive – why not put one of these ideas into practice today?
- Explore the evidence behind a negative thought – is it true? If it is, then take steps to make a change. If it isn’t, check out a more accurate positive thought instead. Make a note of it.
- Change one of the negative words in your negative thought into a positive one.
- Check your emotions. Do they need expression? Sometimes emotions such as sadness or anger come out as negative thoughts instead. Why not try an activity that helps you express the emotion – for example, writing or drawing it instead?
- Ask someone to help you come up with some positive alternatives if you feel stuck.
- Ask yourself a ‘perspective question’ – for example, would this matter to me in five year’s time?
- Turn 180 degrees – can you look at your negative thought from a completely different perspective?