May 7th is National Child & Youth Mental Health Day. Willie MacPherson was impacted by mental health problems throughout his youth. He was addicted to sugar, video games, and drugs, but found healing. He shares the lessons he learned on the way.
Talking about your struggles helps a lot, it really does. Find peer groups or an adult you can talk with. Schools have counselors, which is a good place to start. We have done two peer support workshops in our local high school, and we want to support youth who have the idea to start their own peer support program. We want to support youth leadership. Young people are going to be part of the change.
So much of mental wellness is related to being active. Use your body. Future conversations should focus on mental wellness instead of illness. Create programs to teach kids how to breathe and regulate their nervous systems. Give them the tools to help them navigate difficult situations. Yoga, meditation, and movement can help a lot to create healthy routines.
Life is a long game
Although your life can seem really tough right now, it doesn’t mean that things have to stay tough. When I was a young man, my bedroom looked like a bomb exploded, I played video games day and night, and I was doing drugs by myself but things have changed so much. Now my life is abundant and wonderful.
You are not alone
It is okay to be struggling. There is nothing wrong with you and you are not alone. If you haven’t found your peer group yet, give it time and you will find them.
Life is about small changes. You can’t change yourself all at once. Start with the small routines that we create in our day. Pick a change that you can manage. Once that becomes part of your daily routine, pick another one. It is like a ship at sea, if you shift the trajectory a little bit, you can end up in a different world.
Play is essential for development. Don’t stop being silly. It keeps the challenges in perspective.