Mental Health and Young People Think Tank

by Jenni Osborn January 4, 2017 A

This was written by Jenni Osborn

Last Friday saw the start of this latest Think Tank: it was a dank and dreary day in London, the rain was not forecasted and torrential at times. However, the conversation was anything but dreary and wet! Around the table were four of us who had answered the call to get the ball rolling with this new Think Tank on Mental Health and Young People from a Christian perspective.

We arrived at four areas to take notice of and draw on as we go forward:

1.Young people want to talk about Mental Health. Rachael noted that, largely, drug and alcohol abuse have receded as major life issues for young people as recorded incidences of self harm and mental ill health increase. Ruth mentioned that we are in the same place with mental health as we were with sexual health 10 years ago

2.The growing up process is hard for all our young people, issues of identity and experiences of trauma affect us all much more when we are teenagers. There is a need to understand this as youth workers, to continue to support young people through these challenging times and also to help the wider church understand. Ruth had a great phrase for this: ‘Young people need roots and wings’

How do we support young people grow roots and unfurl their wings and cope with any resulting mental health repercussions?

3. Helping parents is another key area, how do we empower parents to know how to support their young people in the best possible way? There’s the need to recognise that bringing up children is a whole church/community effort whilst also acknowledging that this isn’t an easy fix, that trusting others is a huge commitment. The age-old need is still current: for youth workers and parents to work together as a team rather than finding ourselves in a youth worker vs. parent situation.

4. We need to develop a Theology for Mental Health and young people. This is not an entirely new idea. Rachael has been doing a lot of thinking, writing and speaking around this through her Think Twice work.

What are we going to do?

  • We’re looking into the possibility of putting together a listening event, in partnership with others who are involved in this field of work.
  • We’d also like to undertake some research of young people and youth workers in this area, it’s all very well us having a good conversation about this but what is it that young people and youth workers really need?
  • Also, we’d like others to join us! If you’re interested in becoming part of this Think Tank then please let us know. We’ll be meeting again in January and would love there to be more voices. Add your interest in the comments below and someone will be in touch!