College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and ReachOut Ireland Twitter Q&A

ReachOut Ireland will host a live Q&A on Twitter on Tuesday, 25 October with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland.

College of Psychiatry of IrelandConsultant psychiatrists Dr Gerry McCarney, Child and Adolescent and Addiction Psychiatry and Dr Helen Keeley, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (also ReachOut Ireland’s head of clinical guidance) will be over on the @ReachOutIRL Twitter account between 7 and 9 pm.

They will be taking questions from you that you may have about your son or daughter, youth mental health in general, recovery, addiction, psychiatry and what it entails.

To take part, tweet your questions, including the hashtag #AskPsych.

Creating mental health awareness

Each year on 10 October is now World Mental Health Day. Awareness has greatly increased about mental health and what was a day of events, became a week and is now really a month of awareness raising events.

Online and offline support working together

Our research, Reaching Out in College, demonstrated that third level students go online if something is bothering them as a first step.

We also know for parents of those under the age of 18 years-old, and over, there is a lot of confusion about the world of psychiatry and different mental health services around Ireland. The aim of this Twitter Q&A is to demystify these areas. This session is not in anyway meant to be about providing diagnoses online.

At ReachOut Ireland, we encourage, safe and helpful conversations online about mental health and because of that we understand the need for anonymity at times. If you would rather put a question in private, please email general@reachout.com and Helen and Gerry will respond over Twitter on the evening without identifying you.

Developing problem solving skills with young people

Learning how to problem solve sets a young person up for adult life.

rubiks cubeIf a young person is used to their parents making all their decisions for them, and swooping in to ‘fix things’ then, they miss out on developing very important problem solving skills.

As a parent, you will want to ensure your daughter or son learns to manage and solve problems confidently on their own.

What does problem solving involve?

Navigating all the things that can come up for a teenager or someone in their early twenties can be difficult. Young people need to be able to solve problems every day, socially, in school, college or work.

By developing problem solving skills your son or daughter will be to:

  • resolve conflict
  • be independent
  • achieve and take on challenging goals
  • make their own decisions.

Being able to effectively problem solve stops smaller issues escalating into big ones which has an impact on our overall wellbeing.

Essential steps for problem solving

There are some key steps to follow when solving a problem, whether it’s choosing what subjects to take or dealing with bullying behaviour.

To start with, work through a problem together, offering your guidance and support as a parent. As your son or daughter gains more confidence, encourage to them to work through things on their own, assuring them you are always there for advice.

Identify the problem

Start with identifying what the problem is and why is it one? Is it clear what contributed to it? Can it be learned from? For example, if the problem is a failed exam, could this have been solved by more study, more effective study, or are they having trouble with that subject.

Consider potential solutions

Clearly outline the problem and think about each possible solution with your son or daughter. Make sure they come up with some  of their own too.

Choose a solution

When choosing a solution, let your son or daughter work out which one will have the biggest impact? Which one do they think will be easiest for them to achieve? They should decide which approach will work best for them.

Try it out

If we don’t try anything, the problem is unlikely to resolve itself. Emphasise the trying and learning elements of problem solving, and stress that it’s OK to fail.

Sometimes we can’t say we have actually ‘solved’ a problem, but came to a compromise, or sought alternative solutions. Despite our best attempts, sometimes we cannot solve something completely and in these cases it’s about working out some coping strategies to get through it.

Helping your son or daughter develop problem solving skills will set them up to deal with life’s challenges more confidently and effectively.

Helping young people adapt to secondary school

The transition to secondary school can be challenging for many young people.

small lab in a secondary school Moving from being the eldest in primary school to being the youngest,  in a much more demanding environment can be difficult to adapt to.

Even the fact they no longer just have one teacher, but one for each subject to get to know can be a cause of stress.

The need to fit in

Making new friends and juggling a new schedule can be a lot for 12 and 13 year-olds to manage. This is along with being right in the middle of adolescence with all the hormones, mood swings and insecurities about fitting in.

Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety can often be expressed as anger or fits of rage. As a parent you may be well aware of this and have been on the receiving end of some tantrums.

Unhappy at school

Many young people can go through times where they don’t like school but the important thing is to get to the bottom of it and try to not let it persist.

Make it regular practice to talk about everything that is going on with them, not just school, showing an interest in all that’s going on.

If they say they don’t like school, try to tease it out with them in a non confrontational way, like during a walk or when you’re driving somewhere.

Constructive communication

This is a time where young people can need some assistance in learning to communicate their feelings more constructively.

In the long run, this will help them with relationships inside and outside of the family and hopefully help anger be expressed in a more healthy way.

Listen an be open-minded

Being listened to and understood goes a long way to helping young people feel supported. You can’t solve all their problems for them, nor should you try, but work with them to work out solutions.

Be open to talking and working through ideas about how they might make friends, identifying ways to find stuff to enjoy outside of class, like sports or other hobbies, explore ways to make homework or particular subjects less stressful.

When to use rewards

Go easy on using reward systems. You’re encouraging them in effective goal-setting and problem solving on their own with your support. These skills do need to be learned and not incentivised.

Of course if something is creating great distress, it can be OK the odd time to encourage your son or daughter to face up to something or stick with something for a few weeks and say you’ll take them out for a treat.

School for the whole family

The secondary school years can be tough for the whole family. Your son or daughter is under new pressures be it school work, or issues that can be caused during friendships and relationships.

Schedules are busy and young people are going through a time where they need more independence. Stay positive as much as you can, sharing your concerns with someone and keep the lines of communication open with your son or daughter.

It’s through the secondary schooling that they need your help and support more than ever and may not be as quick to ask for it.