Church hears of mental health challenges facing young people
Some of the mental health challenges facing young people were discussed at a conference in Exeter. Over 130 people attended the conference organised by YCWSW (Youth & Children’s Work South West), an ecumenical group of people which promotes church activity with young people in the region. The day explored the pressures affecting mental health in children and young people and how Christian ministry can better understand and respond to these issues.
Psychologist Kate Middleton highlighted some of the key factors in gender and sexual identity, emotional change, risk-taking and growing relationships – and how these impinge on who we become as we move from childhood to adulthood. She referred to helping young people to build resilience to the storm ahead.
Ken Corish, online Safety Director with South West Grid for Learning Trust, spoke about the impacts of social media and technology on younger people – the health challenges of sleep deprivation, the consequences of being taken out of our geographical and historical spaces and how raw times of mental health can be exacerbated by social media.
One outcome from the conference was the recognition of the need for continuing the conversation around the development of resources and understanding of the mental health needs of young people. The event was supported by the Churches Mental Health Roundtable, part of the Church & Society work of the Diocese of Exeter.
Paul Reisbach, Youth Work Adviser for the diocese, said: “Hardly a week goes by without there being reference to a tragedy, struggle or injustice in the news that doesn’t have some connection to the lack of mental health and wellbeing in our children and young people. In many parts of our society (not least of all the church), it has too often become the elephant in the room with people increasingly desperate to have genuinely healthy and helpful conversations but having no idea about where and how to start them.”