Mind Media Awards Entries 2017 and Annual Mental Health Survey

The entries for the Mind charity annual media awards closed on Friday 7th July, a shortlist will be announced later this year. Last years’ winners presented a touching array of stories from Professor Green sharing his experiences about his Dad’s suicide to Rosie Adam’s blog about post-natal depression. The awards help to publicise important developments surrounding mental health in the media and through public engagement, with awards for digital champion and student journalist among those for drama and radio. There are also special awards given for speaking out and making a difference. These categories allow a particular focus for addressing the stigma surrounding mental health encourage people to talk about it and provides the drivers to initiate change, especially for young people.

In the words of Jeremy Paxman,

“I think the big difficulty is for people to realise that this is perfectly normal, it is perfectly normal to have mental health problems. I’ve got a bad knee at present, but I’m not embarrassed to tell you or anybody else about it, but people are embarrassed to talk about mental issues, and its perfectly normal, particularly among young people, to have issues with depression or suicidal feelings. I don’t think you’re going to change young people overnight but what you can do is change the climate around it so that they’re find it easier to talk and to seek help and you know, the media can really help with that.”

This coincides with the Mind annual mental health survey which allows everyone over the age of 16 to share their experiences surrounding mental health and accessing care and services. This is a simple and accessible way to gather data to look at how well service providers are meeting the demands of the public, but what about children and young people below the age of sixteen? Could this particular survey model be tailored specifically for younger age groups and parents? With mental ill-health becoming an increasing concern for our children and suggestions that CAMHS waiting times are ever increasing, would it not be useful to provide a similar survey to parents, professionals and young people to share their experiences and identify gaps in this particular area. Last year the office of national statistics carried out the first survey on children’s mental health since 2004 – that’s over 12 years in which a significant and important age group was forgotten, suggesting that there is scope for such a survey to be useful, such as those in the Children’s Societies Good Childhood report, which suggest that mental health and wellbeing in children has declined over the past 5 years. Something needs to be done to address this gap so that the mental health and wellbeing of future generations is not overlooked.

 

*Please note: all opinions and views expressed are that of the MICE Hub and not associated with Mind charity. All published media associated with Mind charity is original and reproduced exactly as it was published at mind.org.uk

 

‘Mental health first aid training’ in schools is a sticking-plaster solution

Dr. Wendy Sims-Schouten’s publication on The Conversation  is a poignant portrayal of the situation surrounding mental health for children, young people, and teachers in education today. The Conversation allows everyone open access to journalistic articles written by academics with expertise in the field. It is a platform where researchers can share current developments, issues and concerns openly and honestly with the general public.

Brain-Plaster

It is clear that, despite the government’s attempts to address the issue of mental health in childhood and education, little progress is being made with reports, such as those from The Children’s Society, suggesting that there have been increases in mental health issues, particularly for girls, for today’s youth culture.

On top of this, teachers – who already report vociferously about the stresses and strains of their workload and the impact this has on their own mental health, will be expected to undertake training and delivery of the proposed strategy to tackle the issue of spotting the signs and stopping the stigma surrounding mental health. So why are teachers being expected to undertake yet another pastoral aspect as a part of their already very challenging role? In this article Dr. Wendy Sims-Schouten also addresses the question of “What happened to professional mental health services?” Through looking at government pledges and actual spending in this category.

Can social media be used as a tool to help improve wellbeing in young people?

We have known for many years now the links between socialising, positive relationships, good health and wellbeing. It is a fundamental part of being human. We need to feel connected to others to feel safe and practice the exploration of self-identity; and never has this connectivity been more accessible than since the invention of the internet. However, this doesn’t come without risks and some are sceptical as to the benefits. They believe that it could put our young people in danger and in the long-run it will do more harm than good. Fears of cyberbullying are of particular concern and a cause for great anxiety among the general public.

social media keyboard

Not for Drs’ Edwards and Wang though; in the following study: Strangers are friends I haven’t met yet: a positive approach to young people’s use of social media, they look more positively at the impact the use of various social media tools can have on young people when used as a way of building and maintaining close relationships. Quantitative data is collected through surveys and analysed to establish how various (8) social media platforms are used in terms of relationship maintenance strategies. However, the findings do not necessarily represent generalisable trends, a much larger scale study would be needed instead, its purpose is to guide subsequent qualitative explorations. Although not focussing specifically on wellbeing, the study suggests that the use of these social media tools by young people is primarily to,

“support and protect those with whom relationships have been carefully established,” and, “to provide them with a challenging space to practice identity and relationship management strategies,”

All of which are vital to protecting wellbeing in a culture where self-identity is managed within an increasingly complex network of social relationships for which online communities can support this process and also a sense of belonging.

socialmedia-teens3

To achieve a positive state of wellbeing young people must feel safe, connected and supported by those around them, especially those who they feel closest to. Prior to common use of the internet and social media, social settings in which this happened were face-to-face in groups or one-to-one. School sites however, can be unnatural settings in which relationships and young peoples’ identities are managed in the context of social hierarchies and sometimes in response to peer pressures. The use of phatic technology, or communications (social) technology used for the purpose of relationship building, via various social media platforms appear to allow young people to do much the same but in an environment where exploring identities feels safer as they are able to gauge the response of their peers before committing themselves to a particular identity and seek out those who are like-minded. The eight various social media platforms in this study appear to be able to provide young people with an online community in which bonding and self-expression may be practiced safely and without fear of judgement, therefore supporting the building of a community which could positively affect the wellbeing on young people in the long-term. However, further studies are required to measure the impact.

Victoria Wang & Simon Edwards (2016) Strangers are friends I haven't met yet: a positive approach to young people's use of social media, Journal of Youth Studies, 19:9, 1204-1219