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Talking to Young People about Mental Health

Nov 06, 2018


If you asked a young person, 'Have you had any thoughts about harming yourself?’ and they responded 'Yes', what would you do?

Speaking openly about mental ill health could save a life and will help someone to feel more connected with others. Thoughts of despair, loneliness and sadness are unfortunately common place for many children and young people in today’s fast paced world and it’s time to start addressing it!  

Asking a young person this question will not encourage them to think about suicide. This is too often a common misconception that is preventing us from providing the support our youngsters need.

If you work with people between the ages of 8 and 18, then you need to be certain that you can ask this question and respond in the right way to someone who is in distress and guide them towards receiving the right support.

By attending our Mental Health First Aid training, you will have the opportunity to explore a range of common illnesses including: 

• depression
• anxiety 
• eating disorders
• self-harm
• suicide 
• psychosis

You will become familiar with the signs and symptoms of mental health issues to look out for in young people. There will also be a chance to discuss challenging scenarios that will equip you to signpost them to the correct advice, support and treatment.

Most importantly you will become a Mental Health Champion, meaning the young people you work with will know you are a safe person to talk to and will respond in a non-judgmental supportive way. 

Beginning a conversation is often the first stage of recovery for someone feeling emotionally unwell, so by working together we can provide a network of safe adults who have a listening ear and resources at their fingertips.

The World Health Organization Geneva found in their 2003 report,'Caring for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders' that 70% of adolescents who experience mental health problems do not receive the appropriate intervention at a sufficient early age.


Having attended this course myself, I feel that the information covered is essential for all adults working with under 18’s. The difficulties faced by young people now are exacerbated far beyond issues I remember as a child, largely due to the increased threat from social media and its pervasive nature.  

Talking to young people about their feelings and emotions enables them to become more resilient, giving them the skills they need to flourish. Simply writing these issues off as ‘we were all young once’ is not acceptable, particularly when the signs of emotional distress in young people is on the rise.  

Having recently qualified as a Child Play Therapist, I regularly work with children who may not have needed my support had someone spotted the signs of distress sooner. Attending this course will not make you a qualified therapist or councillor, but it will give you the basic information you need to ask the right questions of a young person you are concerned about.

So, let’s begin that conversation.

Our Mental Health First Aid training courses are available on the following dates:

• Thu 29 November 2018, 9:00-17:00, Welwyn Garden City
• Wed 20 February 2019, 9:00-17:00, Hatfield

For more information and to book your place click here

Mental Health Facts and Figures provided by:

WHO (2003). Caring for children and adolescents with mental disorders: Setting WHO directions. [online] Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at: 

Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. (2005). Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.