Young people suffering in silence?
Jenna is a trainee counsellor, having studied for the last three years with the Open University and is about to undertake her next course entitled "Challenging ideas in mental health." She currently works as an online relationship adviser for TheSite.org and a chat moderator where she offers advice and support to 16 to 25 year olds who are often struggling with mental health issues and relationship problems. Jenna has also recently started contributing her advice to Bliss magazine, as well as helping out on Radio 1's The Surgery Facebook page.
As a peer adviser I work with young people who can be going through some quite difficult times. These can include self harm, homelessness, having to care for a family member, depression, low self-esteem to name a few.
These are not the type of things you expect a young person to be battling. Usually it is homework, which boy they like at school, what to wear on a night out or who do they class as their best friend. I have been astonished by the amount of pain and pressure some young people are under and how many of them are suffering in silence without help or support.
It is heartbreaking to know that young people are going through this, often alone unable to speak to those close to them. I recently spoke to one young person who didn’t want to burden his parents with thoughts of how unhappy and lacking in self-esteem he was because of the fear he had of making them unhappy. This young person had suddenly taken on responsibility that he should not be accountable for and I was sad to think that he was hiding his fears and not seeking help because he was worried it would cause unhappiness for his parents.
I asked him how he thinks his parents would feel if they knew he felt this way, he didn’t know. I asked wouldn’t they be unhappy if they knew he was worried about talking to them about how he felt or knowing that he couldn’t talk to them; would they not want to help? In the end, thankfully he said he would speak to his mum.
How many other young people are suffering in silence with depression, low-confidence, bullying and who knows what else? How can they be encouraged to open up, to seek support and feel better? Or is the more important question, why are they feeling this way in the first place? How many more young people are there like this, are more young people suffering from a form of mental distress and if so...why?