Blog | Mental Health Awareness Week
By Jay Thompson, Deputy UK Youth Commissioner
One in four adults will experience mental health issues in their lifetime. It's the end of Mental Health Awareness week, and it’s just as important to talk about the mental health of our leaders as it is our young people. Scouting can help leaders improve their mental wellbeing in so many ways – lots of which go unnoticed.
Giving your time
Giving your time to help other people can play an important role in good mental health. Scouting is a great way to volunteer, because you can see a direct link between the time you’re putting in and the happiness and new skills that young people are gaining. It doesn’t really matter where you volunteer, though – giving up your time leads to you feeling more valued and having better self esteem . Win, win!
Developing your skills
Trying new activities is such a good way to improve your self-esteem! A really good example I know of is of a now-leader who started volunteering as a parent helper. By their own admission, they were struggling with self-esteem issues and generally feeling a bit bored and down.
They ended up enjoying themselves at Beavers and became a sectional assistant. More than that though, in the course of achieving a climbing permit, they discovered they enjoyed that too and it’s since become a hobby – two for the price of one! Now this parent is reporting that they feel happier and more relaxed and able to burn off steam, and has a whole host of activities to get involved with.
Doing something different from what you’re used to is just as important as getting outside and having fun. Watching youngters learn new things is magical, and can make you open up your own eyes at the same time. Whilst you wouldn’t necessarily get up and go for a hike by yourself on a Thursday, your Troop will definitely provide motivation!
Meeting new people
Scouting gives you the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and you’ll absolutely reap the rewards. Forming new friendship groups and meeting new people is a skill in itself. The less isolated and more socially engaged we are as adults, the more resilience we develop. Finding a good platform to meet new, welcoming people like you do at Scouts is a really good place to start. Even better – once you’re involved you can specialise in anything you like and be as flexible as you need, so you’re bound to meet like-minded volunteers.
I hope you’ve been able to get involved in some way with Mental Health Awareness week. It’s so important to have even more conversations with each other and our young people about our mental wellbeing and can only lead to good things – the more conversations that take place, the better!