The theme for this year's World Mental Health Day is mental health in an unequal world.
At e-wellbeing, we are focussing on the impact of digital poverty when young people are unable to access emotional health and wellbeing support online. This blog was written by Phoebe, e-wellbeing Youth Ambassador.
Your Mental Health
As World Mental Health Day approaches, it's important for us to remember why mental health awareness needs to be highlighted, what we can do to keep raising the profile, and what challenges are associated. Mental health and wellbeing are a huge part of a person’s life, and it is important to always remember to take care of yourself first! Listen to your body and what it needs, and take time out from all the necessary tasks in life (like your school work, or your job) to do things you enjoy. That could include exercise, such as going for a walk or a bike ride, or even meditating. You could do some baking, or crafting, or even go out for a meal/to the cinema. It can pretty much be anything that helps you to relieve stress and rest your mind for a little while.
Mental health, whether good or bad, comes in many different shapes and sizes, and looks different for everyone. Raising awareness and having open lines of communication about mental health enables us to explore our knowledge and learn new things, and through this we may even be able to help people through tough times. It is important to be open and honest when talking about mental health, and to also be considerate of what you are saying and how it may come across. Remember that everyone’s experiences are different, and some people may find certain topics challenging or triggering to talk about.
Mental Health Stigma
A large issue that surrounds mental health is its negative stigma. Stigma leads a lot of people to have prejudicial and unhealthy views of different mental health conditions, as well as incorrect or extreme views of the individuals who suffer from mental health conditions. Awareness, and a strong understanding of what people can experience due to their mental health, can play a large part in reducing this stigma. Talking about how you feel actively encourages conversations about mental health and might make you feel better for sharing; it is also sometimes nice to hear a friend’s perspective! Sharing and feeling comfortable talking about your feelings may encourage a person to seek help for themselves, or to try and support a family member or friend in seeking help.
Access to Mental Health and its Barriers
Access to mental health support is important, and should be easily accessible for everyone. One barrier to consider that has been prominent during the pandemic is that of digital poverty; due to schools choosing to teach their school syllabus online during the pandemic, for most young people school lessons were held online for a large portion of the school year.
We have been learning a lot about digital poverty recently with e-wellbeing. Digital poverty is where individuals or groups of people (typically families) don’t have access to a variety of electronic devices, often due to a range of socio-demographic variables including income. Large groups of people are therefore ‘digitally excluded’ from the online or electronic community. Digital poverty is nothing to be ashamed of, and there are a range of organisations (see Getting Support below) that offer assistance to families experiencing digital poverty.
Digital Poverty and Young People
Have a think about the different electronic devices you have in your home: think about your mobile phone. Lots of young people use their phone all the time these days to chat to friends and play games, but some young people may not have a phone and are therefore excluded from talking to their friends outside of school. If you have a Nintendo switch, Xbox or PS4/5, someone experiencing digital poverty may not have one of these in their home. If someone who is experiencing digital poverty does not a computer/laptop at home, how do they do their homework or access any online study support materials? Think as well about how the lack of resources would make accessing mental health support online a lot more challenging.
If you are experiencing digital poverty and would like to access mental health support online, you could use the school computers to explore different resources online. Or if you feel like you want to talk to someone, talk to a teacher or get in touch with your GP. You can also access support from e-wellbeing's directory of mental heath services in Sussex by clicking here.
Many organisations and individuals in our network are working hard to connect schools and local community groups with support from across the region. Wired Sussex have collated some helpful resources to make it easier to find the right support for you, or anyone you know who is experiencing digital poverty. Here is the direct link: Wired Sussex – Closing the Digital Divide
Lastly, we all have our own experiences of mental health and everyone deserves to access the right support either online or in-person. Remember to be considerate of other people’s feelings and understand that not everyone has access to the same devices that you might have at home. And remember to be kind. It has become clear that many young people in our community do not have the tech they need to learn at home.
Hey everyone! Firstly, thanks so much for reading this blog post, I hope you are having a great day so far. My name is Phoebe and I am an e-wellbeing Ambassador. I am currently working as a support worker supporting individuals with learning disabilities. I really enjoy my job and love all the residents I work with, they bring such joy to my life!
I became an e-wellbeing ambassador to learn more about the mental health resources available for young people and to help raise awareness for different mental health platforms. Being able to contribute towards the improvements made to existing resources as well as creating new ones is an added benefit. Through volunteering with e-wellbeing I am able to build my creativity profile and work on projects that real young people will see, and if that helps just one person – I'm happy.