Sean Humphreys has joined the YouthLink Scotland team as our new Mental Health & Wellbeing Development Officer. Find out more about his background and the importance of this new post in today’s blog.
I have been very much looking forward to joining the team at YouthLink Scotland and my excitement has grown further still since being warmly welcomed by my new colleagues.
I have a very important challenge ahead in scoping existing mental health resources, finding out the needs of the youth work sector and potentially creating a Mental Health and Wellbeing resource that will provide information and tools for Youth Workers towards ending mental health stigma and discrimination. I look forward to connecting with more and more of you over the coming weeks and months as we develop our awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing together, whilst delivering the work that has such a positive and far-reaching impact for young people across Scotland.
I have been extremely passionate about Youth Work for well over two decades now. I have seen first hand the impact - of both building relationships with young people and delivering the work that follows from those foundations - from the variety of roles. Another of my long-term passions is mental health and wellbeing. It has consciously been a huge area of interest for me in all of my work, and learning about taking care of my own health and supporting others around me to learn to do so too has been a priority for me for as long as I can remember. I believe that self-care – practiced both individually and collectively (in the various groups and teams that we are part of in our lives) – is the route forwards to finding the balance that we all strive for. Learning and developing this together will create a healthier society.
Exactly how we each find and maintain balance through our own unique journeys is specific to each of us, but the human needs that we all share provide us with guidance as we find our route map forwards. We all need connection and relationships and strive to feel part of something. We all search for a sense of achievement, empowerment and pride. We all want to feel free to create, to play and to enjoy.
It could be a relaxing walk or a marathon run, mountaineering or mindfulness and meditation and everything in between. These activities contribute towards finding our healthy balance. How we create our feelings of satisfaction that combine to provide us with this sense of balance varies, but we all share the same human needs and goal: to feel well.
I feel a great deal of excitement about recent progress in the development of a more holistic understanding and psychosocial approach to mental health and wellbeing in Scotland, which builds upon existing services already available and runs parallel with important medical advances. I think that together, there is so much potential for further development. The impact of the mental health issues that we can all face varies significantly from those related to the stresses that we face to those that have roots in issues such as abuse or neglect in childhood (and other Adverse Childhood Experiences), or indeed a combination of these factors. Our own specific steps that we need to take to heal naturally correlate with the level of severity, but follow the same guidance on our route map, which is based on individual, and collective self-care.
Youth Work - as we know - is defined by relationships and bringing people together. It is full of learning and development, characterised by exploration and activity. These factors, underpinned by all of the talented and committed staff (including volunteers) in the sector, mean that all of the ingredients for a healthier future for young people are there. Often youth workers and volunteers are already supporting young people’s mental health but don’t always recognise the importance of their contribution.
An essential and ongoing element of all steps on this journey forward together is to continue to challenge stigma and discrimination. There have been many positive developments in mental health and wellbeing, but there is still a significant distance to travel. Together, we need to create a society where this is no longer the barrier that it is today.
I look forward to connecting (or reconnecting) with and working with you in my role as part of the team at YouthLink Scotland as we provide the information and resources that will form an important part of the journey forwards for a healthier future together. If you would like to share best practice, please do get in touch by emailing me or getting in touch on Twitter – it would be great to hear from you and hear your experience.
Finally, I would also like to thank See Me Scotland for making this all possible.