For most of us, this will be a familiar feeling, a common concept and something we’re able to relate to. It’s no secret that with age comes experience, knowledge and information that couldn’t be more important in forming the decisions that shape our days. In life, there are lessons to learn and such an education can often prove painful. No-one endures more in this respect than our children and teenagers.
It’s our job (both as parents and mental health professionals) to inform and teach young people. To place them on the correct path and to influence their direction.
Such a task isn’t always as straightforward as it sometimes sounds. Like most people, we’ll accept assistance from wherever it comes. That there are innumerable groups and organisations (ours included) striving to support parents and tackle the issues of their offspring means help and support is never far away.
Here at CPUK, our focus is on mental health and emotional problems (and all of the associated issues) but what about the other stuff? There’s one organisation that has come to our attention in recent times whose efforts have struck quite a chord. It is called Respect Yourself.
Run entirely by volunteers, the group’s mission is to ‘empower young people to create a better life’. Interestingly, Respect Yourself seeks to make available ‘information learned later in life earlier, when it is most useful’. If we’d only known then what we know now: this is the central concept.
Because Respect Yourself is for young people (and because its founder, Claire Burke, understands her audience), this information is imparted in a manner that appeals to teenagers, maximising its impact in the process. Messages are sent out daily, via SMS, Facebook and Twitter. Social media has a bad name (and, given the recent increase in cyberbullying, this is understandable), but harnessed in the correct manner, it can be an invaluable resource in reaching those most in need of guidance.
‘Young people are sent information before it’s needed,’ explains Claire, who believes that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. To us, this makes a great deal of sense.
To consider the titles of some of the topics covered is to realise that this is a service that can do immeasurable good in helping to educate, inform and influence: Bullying isn’t cool; You can’t please everyone; Anger masks deeper emotions; Good nutrition helps your immune system; It’s normal for setbacks to hurt; Taking drugs will destroy part of you; Most of your worries are a waste of time; Protect your tweets.
These are all things that, as adults, we know. Making such information available to children and teenagers now, when it is needed most, can empower young people to create the better life we want for them, avoid certain pitfalls and ensure that those all-important lessons can be learned without the need for pain and problems.