The Fundamentals of Scouting focus on creating a supportive and inclusive environment for young people, promoting their physical and emotional wellbeing and facilitating development. It is vital that all Adults in Scouting provide young people with the space to develop positive self-esteem, values, resilience and feel comfortable to talk about their feelings.
This month we need to look at emotional wellbeing of our youth members.
What is emotional wellbeing?
Emotional wellbeing (sometimes called mental wellbeing) describes how you feel and how well you can cope with day-to-day life.
If a person has good emotional wellbeing they are able to:
- feel relatively confident in themselves
- adapt in times of change and uncertainty
- build and maintain positive relationships
Emotional wellbeing can change from day to day. If someone experiences low emotional wellbeing for a long period of time, they are more likely to develop a mental health problem (see below for more information).
What affects emotional wellbeing?
Everyone has times when they feel stressed, upset or find it difficult to cope. These feelings can make us act in ways that we wouldn’t usually.
A young person’s emotional wellbeing can be affected by common life events such as bullying, pressures of exams or losing a loved one. Building emotional resilience can improve wellbeing and make it easier to adapt to challenging circumstances.
Ways of building emotional resilience include:
- looking after your physical health
- building positive relationships
- doing the things you enjoy
- taking steps to increase your confidence.
These are all things that Scouting can bring to a young person and that we can use to maximise the benefits of Scouting.
What can I do to promote emotional wellbeing in my Section?
Scouting has a positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of young people and can build their resilience. The very nature of Scouting provides consistency, positive relationships and physical activities that can give young people a break from worries in other aspects of their lives and boost self-esteem.
Scouting also provides a supportive environment for young people to share their thoughts and feelings, and challenges them to try new things and build their confidence.
As volunteers you are in a great position to maximise the impact of small things that can improve a young person’s wellbeing.
Below we provide some practical examples of the things you can do (and may already be doing):
- Listen. Offer young people a space to identify and express their feelings. Show respect, take all feelings seriously and encourage others to do the same.
- Talk about wellbeing. Include activities in the program to get young people talking about and understanding their emotions. Encourage young people to learn, raise awareness and challenge the stigma around mental health.
- Get moving. Whether it’s playing a wide-game or building a campfire, physical activity is good for young people’s physical and emotional wellbeing. It can also help to build their confidence and team working skills.
- Support positive relationships. Help young people to understand each other’s perspectives.
- Prevent bullying. Take action to prevent bullying, and identify and respond to any incidents accordingly. Refer to resources on Scouts Central and the National e-learning modules.
- Support positive language. Consider the words that you and others in the section use, and how you talk about mental health. Respond to and appropriately challenge any language that may cause offense or lead to stigma.
- Encourage participation. It’s important to make sure every young person feels included and able to express themselves if, when and how they want.
- Build self-esteem. Offer consistent positive reinforcement to all the young people in the section to build self-esteem. Support each young person to recognise their strengths, qualities and achievements. Where young people have challenging behaviour, or the section is really busy, this is easily forgotten, but really important.
- Challenge negative self-talk or negative thinking. Encourage positive but realistic thinking.
- Let young people know who can help. A barrier to young people getting the support they need, is often not knowing where to turn. It’s good practice to have information on display.
By taking practical actions, awareness of mental health is raised and stigma decreased.