Blog | #YoungMindsMatter
We know that #YoungMindsMatter. We've gathered some stories of Scouting members who know how vital it is to talk about mental wellbeing.
‘I’ve been affected by mental health issues throughout my whole life,’ says 18-year-old Young Leader Callum. ‘The smallest thing could trigger my anxiety. I knew it was in my mind, that I was creating the nasty thoughts, but it was real to me. I couldn’t get away from it.’
Every week, 250,000 people of all ages, genders and backgrounds visit a doctor about mental health concerns. Around 1 in 4 people will experience poor mental health this year.
Mental wellbeing is one of the four A Million Hands issues, supported by Mind, SAMH & Niamh. We are taking action to improve the mental wellbeing and resilience of individuals, Scout Groups and wider society, and also to decrease mental health stigma.
For Sarah, a Cub Leader in Sheffield, a combination of family and work pressures led to low self-esteem and depression. In Scouting she found an escape. ‘I started helping with Cubs when my son joined. Sometimes it was all I’d do in the week, the only thing I could get out of bed for. Running around after the Cubs for two hours was a good kind of exhaustion.’
Callum was an Explorer during the worst period of his anxiety. ‘It was really good for me to go to Scouts at that time. I could mix with a group of people, and it gave me time to worry about other people and not myself.'
Now he feels that his experiences have given him an insight that helps him support other young people at Scouts. ‘It’s hard for people to understand it [a mental health issue] if they’ve not been through it. Having suffered myself, I can see and understand what other people are going through.’
All over the country, members of Scouting have been getting involved with A Million Hands. ‘We chose to focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing with our Beavers,’ says Amy, a Leader in Hereford. ‘It [talking about mental wellbeing] is vital, growing up in today’s society. The plan is for the Beavers to learn about how to keep their minds fit and healthy by talking about our emotions.’
‘It’s tricky to talk about with the Cubs, but it’s so important,’ reflects Sarah. Her Group has also chosen mental wellbeing for A Million Hands, and have been talking about emotions and identifying when a friend is feeling down.
‘Even if it resonates with just one young person then it’s important,’ Sarah says, emphatically. ‘Young people need trusted adults, like Scout Leaders, that they can talk to, and we should be encouraging them to open up if they need to.’
‘Mental illness is so common, but nothing ever seems to get done about it. We don’t even talk about it at school,’ Callum says passionately. ‘By talking about my experiences, I want to deliver a positive message to people my age. We need to look out and care for one another.’
For updated information and practical guidance on supporting young people in their emotional wellbeing and mental health, click here.
If you haven’t yet signed up for A Million Hands, get involved and download the mental wellbeing resource pack for lots ideas about how to take action. And make sure you take the time to think about your mental health this month.