YMCA launches parent mental health guide for Children’s Mental Health Week
New figures, published today by youth charity YMCA, show that despite the important role parents play in supporting the mental health of their children, many are not up to the task.
YMCA spoke to more than 2,000 11-24 year-olds about stigma and mental health, with fewer than half of young people (46%) who had seen or heard harmful language and negative stereotypes about mental health saying they think that their parents are not comfortable talking to them about the issue. A third of those young people also said they don’t believe their parents know where to direct them for support with mental health difficulties, leaving them to scramble for information elsewhere.
To help parents tackle conversations about mental health, YMCA has launched a free parent and carer mental health guide, as part of this year’s Children Mental Health Week ( 5-11 February), which was designed by young people. The guide was developed after they spoke to parents who told them that they often felt isolated, embarrassed and ashamed by the challenges they face when talking to their children about mental and emotional difficulties.
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive for YMCA England & Wales, said:
As a mother of two, I know that we parents are often the first ones to notice when something is not quite right with our children. Knowing how to talk to them about mental health is absolutely crucial to let them know that they are understood, not alone, and that support is available.
Many of the resources on mental health so far have focussed on professionals, but there is little support available for parents or carers, leaving many families to their own devices.
Young people, parents and carers have told us that talking about mental health is far from easy and for many just starting the conversation is a major challenge. Children Mental Health Week is a great opportunity for parents and carers to kick off these crucial conversations and our guide will help them understand exactly how to start and what type of language not to use to avoid their children shutting down and feeling misunderstood.
The guide features key tips on how to talk about mental health, but also includes real life examples from young people and signposts to the right services for further support. It was developed by young volunteers at YMCA Downslink Group’s award–winning mental health project, Right Here, which empowers young people to promote health and wellbeing through campaigning, education and influencing.
The new figures and guide are released as part of YMCA’s and the NHS’s #IAMWHOLE campaign, an anti-stigma campaign that was first launched on World Mental Health Day 2016.
Download a free copy of the Parent and Carer Guide.