I recently had a day off work, it was given to all to spend the day remembering and reflecting on a student who had passed away in his sleep just before the summer break. We were all free to choose what we wanted to do but it was to be in his name. Some people visited other establishments to learn new or different practices, some spent time as teams visiting places that had a connection with the student or their subjects. I decided that I wanted to spend the morning and some of the afternoon understanding teenage mental health and then to reflect on what I had learnt and to have some quiet time in contemplation.
Mental health is something very close to my heart, having suffered issues myself in the past. I have a keen interest in understanding what can cause mental health issues, how others approach you when you are going through issues and how best to resolve them or have them under some control so they don’t take over your life (or worse).
My own problem was initially dealt with by my doctor prescribing medication, ok in itself but it would have been more beneficial if I was also able to talk through how I felt with someone who was willing to listen or not tell me to snap out of it. People get scared when facing someone with depression or anxiety and they have no idea what to say, that added to medication that could make you feel like a zombie it makes you feel quite isolated.
Teenage mental health is so tragic, the pressures the younger generation feel is really fundamental to their whole outlook. Often they don’t understand why they are feeling they way they do and often their feelings are written off because they are teenagers and going through a phrase. In most cases they need someone they can trust and talk to who won’t really judge but are gentle with their feelings and help with practical advice. We are also now living in a time where social media is freely accessible, the image of perfection or what is deemed as perfection can hit teenagers hard.
I don’t want to go into too much detail over what I had discovered during my day off, some was quite dark and here is not the forum for that. What I did want to discuss was how I reflected and how running has continued to help me cope without further need for medication.
After my sessions I set off into the open air, the weather cool but dry and the sun peeped out often behind the clouds. I decided that I wanted to run at least 5k in the name of the student, in peace thinking of him and his family whilst also thinking of how I could make a change to the teenagers I work wth daily after discovering what I had earlier in the day. Running in the open air in a country park was fitting, just the sound of the birds, my breathing (laboured), my footsteps (slow) and the wind rustling the leaves on the ground. It was wonderful to be out there and feel free.
Looking back, walking and running has been a mental health saviour for me, after a stressful day at work a run always sets me straight, when I have a problem to mull over I normally can solve it after a run, those issues that make me feel bogged down don’t appear to be that large after I lace up the laces. I am not saying running is for everyone but what I do think is talking through issues, moving your body and getting out in the fresh air goes a long way in making sure you are mentally healthy.
If you know of someone who is going through mental health issues, please don’t judge or tell them to snap out of it, just be there for them. If you have a teenager in your family just remember they are going through many changes, physically and mentally and they have a number of pressures on their mind, you may feel that these pressures are nonsense but to them it could mean everything. If you are worried about them have them talk to someone, keep reassuring them that they are loved, if you can get them out in the fresh air do so and do fun things, relax and laugh.