If you’re a teenager reading this then either you know me already or you’re thinking of making contact. The first thing to know is that there is no shame in asking for help. What you are struggling with, while unique, of course, to you, is something that mental health professionals would probably not consider pathological.
Maybe you’ve been having lots of fights at home, or with your friends, or with your teacher – or all three. This is hard, and very stressful. There is no need to be embarrassed or to feel you ‘shouldn’t’ be so upset by ‘small’ things. We are social creatures us humans, and a lot of our happiness depends on us feeling we are getting on well with the people around us.
Sometimes though it’s not possible to get on with people- and that may not be entirely your doing. Whatever the reason is, it usually helps to talk to someone outside your family. This is not so that you can bitch about them behind their back – it’s just so that you can feel safe while discussing how you are feeling in a given situation and have the time and space to explore options without feeling judged.
Here are some good links if you’re interested and want to read more about what other people your age are experiencing:
http://spunout.ie/ (for lots of different issues)
http://www.winstonswish.org.uk/ (for bereavement related issues)
http://www.talktofrank.com/ (for drug related issues)
Psycho-education for teens:
Part of my work has included weekly sessions with Transition Year Students in Midleton college. I ran a Drugs Prevention and Personal Development Programme there for 16 years and I loved this work – it was my favourite day of the week! In this my aim was (and is, because I still offer workshops) to give TY’s the opportunity to learn about addiction from a therapeutic and preventative perspective as well as from the perspective of recovering addicts themselves and the Gardaí. It’s also a chance to explore other issues that matter to TY’s : social, personal, school related issues. The magic is in the confidential group work element – students who have spent years together may find out new things about each other, and find , I hope, new levels of understanding and compassion around each person’s experience.
Part of my program incorporates sexual health and relationship education. I also offer modules to Junior Certificate students when required. This is often the most ‘fun’ part of the group work – particularly so perhaps because this classes are co-ed.
Sometimes parents refer their children to my private practice specifically for sexual health education sessions. And parents are of course welcome to come themselves for tips on how to discuss sex and sexuality, drugs or any other topic that they are concerned about with their children.
Here is a website that you may find useful for up-to-date contraception information. It’s changing all the time, so it’s best not to assume that you already know, or indeed that your older siblings or friends know. Keep yourself informed!
If you are a teen reading this then you already know how much pressure there is out there around sex and sexuality. Things are very different now from your parents’ time. Very. And it’s normal to want or need help navigating it. A lot of what you are being told is normal and safe is not, and vice versa too. It’s tricky, no doubt.
So please don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. It’s a true sign of strength to do so.