Blog | Why we should talk about mental health
We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health, and it’s important that we look after it. So to mark Mental Health Awareness week, we asked Callum Holt, our Community Impact Project Lead, to talk about why it is important to be able to talk about poor mental health.
The month of May can be one of the most stressful times for the majority of young people across the country. It’s exam season and the pressure is constantly on to study and achieve. This, along with the other stresses that all of us face on a daily basis can leave young people silently suffering with no idea who to turn to. Often the adults in their life can also be unsure about how they can help.
If you are a young person who can relate then be assured you aren’t the only one. Statistics from our A Million Hands Partner SAMH – The Scottish Association for Mental Health – reveal that three young people in every classroom will have experienced a mental health problem by the time they’re 16.
I struggled with stress and anxiety throughout my university degree but was often told by adults that “I didn’t know what stress was” or that “I’d nothing to be anxious about”. But it’s absolutely fantastic to see that in recent years, the tone of similar conversations is changing. More focus is being placed on asking young people what is causing their poor mental health, rather than telling them that it doesn’t exist.
Scouting has already been recognised for having a positive impact on mental wellbeing and resilience. A study from the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh concluded that being a youth member of Scouts or Guides made you 15% less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders in later life.
As leaders and as volunteers, we have a unique relationship with young people built on a programme that builds young people’s confidence, pushes them to try new things and teaches them to not be scared of failing on the first try.
We have the ability to create safe spaces where young people know they will be supported. At times, that might mean Leaders sometimes need to be on hand to have what can seem like a difficult conversation.
Nobody wants to hear that someone they care about is struggling and be unsure about how to help. The resource packs that we have developed as part of A Million Hands are designed to make those conversations less awkward, focussing on getting young people and leaders to share the experience of talking about mental health so that it becomes a normal thing to do within Scouts and also the wider community.
So for Mental Health Awareness Week, I’m asking you to help start those conversations across the country, to help make sure our young people feel supported, valued and empowered to talk about their mental health. And remember, support is available if you need more information, programme ideas, or general support.