The week is Children’s Mental Health Week, and we are putting all our focus on CONNECTIONS!
We live in a modern world where we are constantly connected through online and digital platforms, and yet isolation and loneliness seem to have become a top concern for young people. During the COVID pandemic our society was forced to close doors and open computer screens causing much of the population to lose face to face communication skills. In fact, research undertaken by Archives of Disease in Children suggested that babies who were born within the mass lockdown period may have missed out on those vital first social interactions and may develop slower .
There is no doubt that the prolonged lockdown period between 2020 – 2022 had an effect on many of us, but did it just highlight an already growing sense of lost connections? A survey circulated in 2018 found that 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, with 2% saying that they are lonely all the time.
So, in support of this year’s theme “Connections” we are communicating ways in which we can begin to reconnect and not feel as lonely. Here are a couple of thought-provoking statements…
Become your own best friend. Being alone and feeling lonely are two different things.
Put your digital device down and look up! Social media can be paradoxically anti-social. (nothing is ever truly “free” to use)
Let’s have a look at some activities we and the Place2Be Charity suggest you taking part in if you are ready to connect with other:
- Focus on self-love.Spending time alone might not seem fun, but the more time you spend doing things you enjoy and being kind to yourself the more confident you will feel. It’s ok to have time just for yourself.
- Express your feelings.It is important to have ways to express yourself, even if right now you don’t have people close to you who you can talk to. Keeping a journal can help you to track your mood and reading over it might help you to see things that keep happening in your life which you might need some help with. Some people like to express themselves through drawing, painting, music, fashion or sport.
- Join a club.You don’t have to be good at something to give it a go and enjoy it. A regular hobby with other people can help you build new friendships and have fun. It can feel really nerve-wracking to turn up to a new place, especially if the people already know each other, but you’re likely to find people who are very happy and willing to help you settle in. Additionally, Ackworth School run after school clubs every night of the week! We also actively encourage children to start clubs if they wish to do so.
- Try volunteering.This can be a great way to learn a new skill, give back to your community, feel good about yourself and meet people passionate about the same things as you.
- Follow your passions.If there is something you absolutely love there will be other people out there who feel the same. Whether that’s an online fan forum or a local writers’ group, find ways to connect with the things you love and you might be surprised about what opportunities that leads to.
- Reach out if you’re struggling.Talk to someone you trust. It could be your parents or wider family members, like older cousins, aunts or uncles. Outside home, it could be a teacher, a neighbour or a close family friend. You can also speak to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups, or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling.
- Just speak to someone. Your teachers will always listen to you and even if they can’t solve the problem, they can help you to find a way of dealing with.
Making that first step can be the most daunting. Ackworth School now has many services in place to help and guide our young people such as our Peer Mentoring program (read all about that here), and the School Counselling available. Reach out to your Form Tutors, Nancy Newlands-Melvin, or Hannah Ellis to find our more.
Let’s take time to re-connect.
Author: Rebecca Edgington, Marketing & Alumni