Mind Jersey’s Tina Hesse talks about how to navigate the ever-changing terrains that children and young people are facing
CHILDREN’S Mental Health Week, which started yesterday, is a great opportunity to remind us of the narratives that need to be heard right now, the narratives that remind us of what is important.
The ones that tell us we are here for each other, the ones that show us how communities come together and the ones that demonstrate that our children and young people’s mental health is, and will remain, a priority.
This is an opportune moment to reflect on what we already have available and be curious and creative about how we can move forward to enhance our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Never have we been in a position where mental health and wellbeing is so strongly at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Navigating our way through the challenges that are occurring on a daily basis at an individual, family and community level is no easy feat. However, while finding ourselves in such unknown territory, there are new opportunities for us, not only to continue to do what works but to enhance what is already being done and perhaps even plot new courses and do things differently, where necessary.
The ability to drive forward the vision of prioritising mental health and wellbeing for our children and young people across Jersey could not be a more worthwhile agenda for us as an island. We are, collectively, at a pivotal point to recognise, and more importantly action, the promotion and protection of mental health for children and young people.
Raising awareness that mental health matters, while also ensuring that we are creating a society that respects and treats all people with experience of mental illness fairly, positively and with respect is essential in creating a society where our children and young people know they are valued and that support is available for them if, and when, it is needed.
We know the pandemic has brought about many challenges and we know we are yet to see the full impact of what we are experiencing. Therefore, now is the time to increase the learning of our children, young people and families around the importance of looking after their mental health and wellbeing and to have open and honest conversations about feelings and raise awareness about mental health in all its many guises. It is a time to learn helpful coping tools and strategies. At Mind Jersey, we offer the Decider Skills and Wellness Recovery Action Plans to support this.
We are also very aware of the pressure parents have been, and are still, under to perform, to be all things to all people, with demands including home-schooling during a pandemic. Therefore, at Mind Jersey we always see the needs of the child in the context of the family and will work with parents and schools and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services to find the best way to support children and to take account of their circumstances or environment.
There are various support networks available for families, children and young people in the island. To ensure that families are aware of the different pathways of support and that children get the right help at the right time, information about these services can be found through the Mind Jersey or the Children and Families Hub website.
Enabling families, children and young people to recognise when they may need help or to ask for help if needed is vital. Reducing stigma around accessing support needs to be a very visible message. We all need help at various times in our life and helping children and young people to pass through the different landscapes they are experiencing, feeling supported, can only be a good thing.
Trusting relationships and active listening are the foundations for support. Listening actively to what children and young people are telling us they need is essential in providing the correct help and also allows us to normalise many common anxieties and behaviours in young children.
Children do not always communicate in the same ways as adults. Therefore, being vigilant of signs or changes in behaviour can support the implementation of early interventions and enable individual needs to be met. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and helping a child to express their needs and listening to what is needed is key.
We need to remember that a child may not use words to articulate what they are experiencing. Therefore, initiating child ‘age and stage’ sensitive conversations about feelings and expanding emotional vocabulary may help children to feel validated and not isolated in their experiences. It can also help them to realise that if things become overwhelming, there is support available. We can support our children to express themselves by offering opportunities to communicate in various ways where words are not the only form of expression. They may feel more comfortable expressing themselves through imaginative play, through being in nature, or through creativity and expressive art forms, all of which Mind Jersey will use to enhance its offer to children and young people.
Listening and hearing a child’s voice or the collective voice of children in a world where things are changing frequently and certainty is not so certain, can reassure and support children to navigate this unknown territory. The rough terrain of living in a pandemic may takes its toll and no one is certain what the impacts will be. However, by enabling people to access their inner brave spaces and express their needs we may support their capacity to grow through trauma and flourish.
Having a voice, being listened to and participating in decisions that impact young people is what the Youthful Minds participation group is all about. Youthful Minds is a group of passionate young people (aged between 11 and 25) who volunteer for Mind Jersey. The group has been set up to ensure that Mind Jersey, as well as the rest of the Island, keeps the mental health and wellbeing of all children and young people at the forefront of people’s minds as well as reducing stigma and raising awareness around mental health.
The Children and Young Peoples Service at Mind is hoping to grow participation for children and young people across the Island to ensure that their voices are heard and to initiate some key drivers over the next 12 months. We aim to increase access to our services as well as running various targeted projects highlighting mental health and wellbeing awareness to groups including boys and young men, children and young people who have disabilities and children of our island from various ethnic origins. This will ensure that no child is left behind in the drive for better mental health across our community.
To view a recent video compiled by Youthful Minds, visit https://fb.watch/38_TH2Py0E/.
The mental health and wellbeing of our children is a collective responsibility and, by working together, there is a real opportunity to ensure all children and young people can thrive despite the various adversities that are emerging.
It is a time for a healing-centred engagement approach to foster a community sense of wellbeing. One thing we can be certain of is how utterly amazing and adaptive children and young people can be. With the right care and support, and by creating nurturing and nourishing environments, children can flourish. Being mindful that by creating brave spaces with loving kindness and compassion is very much needed, as is the coming together and working in partnership to meet children’s needs.
By ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people is prioritised and invested in, we can help our children and young people live a meaningful and fulfilling life.
• Mind Jersey would like to thank RBC for its continued support of our services.
Tina took up her role as manager of the Children and Young People Mental Health Support services at Mind Jersey at the start of this year. With a great team behind her, she is looking forward to continuing to support the mental health of children and young people in the Island.
Tina has always had a passion for mental health and wellbeing and her career in education has seen her help to shape and create the Education Department’s wellbeing service and to drive forward the education of children to support their social emotional and mental-health and wellbeing development.
Before moving to Mind Jersey, Tina was a lecturer in childhood studies, wellbeing and counselling at Highlands College, where she also supported the drive for staff wellbeing.
With a masters degree in applied positive and coaching psychology, Tina is also a self-love coach and also a mindfulness and meditation teacher. She is currently in the final stages of completing a two- year diploma in integrative sandplay therapy and a playful supervision course.