Connection is Key

Mental Health and Connecting

Since restrictions, new rules and lockdowns came into force because of coronavirus. We have all had to learn to adapt the way we work, live, socialize, connect. It has not been easy for any of us, but it has been especially difficult for those who are vulnerable, who have had to struggle with these changes more than most.

Our young people, for example, have had to listen, deal with and accept it all, just the same as all of us and have just had to adjust to life, accept what they are told and try to continue life with the expectation to still succeed during this challenging time. This places inevitable stress and pressure on most of our young people’s mental health.

Our children and young people’s resilience to overcome everything happening around them is immense. However, they will struggle and when they do, they look to their role models; friends, teachers, parent’s/carers for help and advice. But sometimes our young people do not have access to healthy role models or people who they feel can help them or be open with, even more so at the minute, so we are here at Phase Trust to offer them our service through 1-1 mentoring which aims to offer a safe space to provide compassion, a listening ear and advice through helpful sessions catered uniquely to each child or family struggling.

I personally get the awesome pleasure of being part of the Primary Team at Phase Trust, working with primary aged children, as well as being part of our community outreach team on Hub Detached in our local area of Halesowen, which the lovely Hannah Hughes mentioned in the last Blog. Along with most of our Primary Team, we have been able to continue our work either in schools or through alternative routes, such as virtual calls with the young people we are supporting, and by delivering activity packs to their doors with the team. This means we have been able to keep up a regular contact with that young person to reinforce that they are cared about. Many young people have been unable to attend school during this time, so these alternative ways of maintaining contact have meant these young people haven’t got missed.

The way we connect may be more restricted and a little more complicated, but we are still connecting – that is so key for the young people we are working with! Keeping a healthy connection and rapport with the young person, letting them know that you are still here for them even through a pandemic, even if it is through a message through the door or a phone call once a week, it can mean so much to that individual. The impact on our young people’s mental health has, no doubt, been huge and we are seeing that in the young people we are supporting. But they keep going, learning resilience through it all. And the feedback we are getting from keeping up our connections with the young people has been overwhelmingly positive. The fact we are even getting to connect more with the parents has been a real blessing, getting to hear first-hand how things are at home, how the parents are doing, and if they need any further support like food parcels or wellbeing chats, we have been able to be there.

I have noticed a positive and open shift in that some people are becoming a lot more open in talking about their mental health and how they are really feeling through this time. The small connections we do have with people, be it virtual or in person, are so important. We need to keep those going, to keep looking out for each other and for those you know that are especially vulnerable during this time.

At Phase, once a relationship has been established, we are open to having those difficult conversations that people would not usually have with people especially around mental health, because it is vital to a person’s wellbeing no matter what age you are. Questions like; How are you? How are you really feeling? Do you know why you are feeling that way? How can I help you? or What can you do to help you in this time? It can help someone be open and understand how they are feeling, why they are feeling like it and what they can do about it so that they can move past it or to just feel more understood and acknowledged. Just being a person that is willing to listen to someone especially those you love could really benefit someone. Allowing time to listen to others, to be a listening ear shows you care.

My hope is that this openness in talking about how we are feeling with each other will continue beyond the pandemic, because I really think it will help us to connect, communicate and grow stronger and become more resilient in our minds.

Amber Murphy
Primary Worker, Phase Trust