Last week, we had been taking part in Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 to highlight and help young people with their mental health across the UK from 6th – 12th February. The theme for this year is Let’s Connect, emphasising young people making meaningful social connections with each other and with adults they can trust to help them.
Many young people are still feeling the effects of loneliness and isolation as a result of the past several years. From the nationwide lockdown and the increased use of social media, many young people have suffered from lack of connection in their relationships with adults and other young people. Despite the lifting of lockdown measures, many young people still struggle to connect with others for many reasons including bullying, stress and struggles they may experience in their school or home life.
These factors can have a devastating effect on the mental health of young people. According to a 2022 study from University of Stirling, approximately one in four young people aged 8 -17 referred to mental health services in Scotland have reported suicidal thoughts or behaviours. More information from this study can be found here. Youth work provides a valuable resource for young people who may feel isolated from the world around them and unable to make new connections.
At Paisley YMCA, we provide a safe and open space for young people to build friendships with each other outside of their schools and regular social circle. This provides them a chance to be completely themselves without fear of judgement in those environments, which is an invaluable resource for the mental health of young people. Many of our young people have told us the positive effect coming to our weekly clubs has had ;
“I feel happy because I go to Paisley YMCA and do cool things.”
“3D printing and being creative makes me feel good!”
“I feel very supported and safe in Paisley YMCA.”
“I prefer playing Dungeons and Dragons here because it’s more inclusive.”
“I feel like I can be myself at Paisley YMCA.”
“Getting to see my friends and play games with them gives me something to look forward to.”
“I have lots to do that I can’t do from home.”
For Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, it is important to think and reflect on the important work that still needs to be done to help vulnerable young people. In providing a free space for young people to come and hang out with a whole new social circle, our YMCA opens up a chance to make new connections. Our club activity often focuses around STEM –related activity and providing young people with tech and opportunities for them to discover and build their skills and talents. However, it is equally important for us to provide a space of safety and fun for young people to feel as happy and fulfilled as they possibly can.
Register to our weekly club activity for free on our Eventbrite page and follow us on Twitter (@YMCAPaisley), Instagram (paisleyymca), Facebook (We Are Paisley YMCA) and our official website to keep up with club activity and the progress of our young people.