Today is World Mental Health Day and our Health Mentors are tweeting top tips for psychological first aid using the #WMHD16 hashtag to support the World Health Organisation’s mental health first aid theme.
Evolve staff regularly work with pupils with mental health issues and have learned strategies to boost emotional and mental wellbeing.
For some young people, their Health Mentor working with them 1:1 is most likely to be the person closest at hand to recognise early signs and symptoms and administer initial mental health first aid.
Simple tips like being a positive listener and giving people time to talk can make a real difference.
Evolve chairman Graham Morgan said: ” Evolve Health Mentors work with children to boost their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and there is independent evidence that this leads to long term psychological and even academic benefits.
“Some of the most powerful strategies when children have mental health issues are the simplest. Giving pupils time to talk, feel valued and safe and encourage them to succeed all offer them the support they need to increase their confidence and self-esteem. Fulfilling the need for a positive role model is also very effective for pupils who don’t have these in their lives. ”
Evolve Health Mentor Craig Yates in West Yorkshire helped a pupil who wanted to self harm.
He sat with a pupil on his caseload during lunchtime to assess his attitude to food and start to talk with him about his school and home life.
The pupil opened up during several mentoring sessions a week after Craig tapped into his hobbies and added board games into the sessions.
This quickly put the pupil at ease and with time he opened up about family issues and wanting to self-harm.
Over time Craig and his pupil worked with different self-help strategies to give the pupil an option of thinking about the consequences.
The pupil began asking Craig for advice after he had built up rapport and trust.
Craig said: “Over the course of the nine months working with me he was no longer wanting to self-harm and in fact using our mechanism as a thought process before acting on everyday issues as well.
“This makes me feel like the work I have done with this pupil is both positive and successful and one of the reasons why I come to school everyday and have a positive impact on children’s lives. Making a difference really does help.”
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, eating disorders and low self-esteem are on the rise amongst pupils, according to mental health charities.
“Today, suicide has become the second most common cause of death for 9-15 year old boys,” Graham added.
“It appears that social changes and our education system is breeding despair in the next generation.
“We must provide more support for our children beyond preparing them for their exams.”