New mental health content for young people on TheSite.org

Emma Rubach
Head of Content

I’m excited to say that our new mental health section, including our new anxiety and depression content (funded by Comic Relief) is live on TheSite. The new section features over 200 articles and videos put together with the help of experts, TheSite users and TheSite Leaders (our young consultants).

With this project we aim to:

  • Help young people distinguish their feelings. Are you just stressed, or do you have a condition that needs treatment?
  • Help them talk about what they’re going through – how do they pick the right person to talk to and what’s the right language to use?
  • Make users feel supported and less alone. Realising you have a mental health issue can be terrifying and stressful in itself, so all our content has support and sympathy at the root.
  • Give users access to the latest thinking from top mental health professionals. Experts we’ve worked with include the Sunday Surgery’s psychotherapist Dr Aaron Balick, psychiatrist Dr Lars Davidson, Professor Chris Williams of Anxiety UK and psychologist Dr Rick Norris. We’re very grateful for all their time and help.
  • Empower users to demand the right treatment and signpost them to organisations like Mind and Young Minds who will give them the tools they need to achieve this.
  • Reduce stigma by reminding young people how natural and common it is to worry about mental health.

Here’s a sample of what’s new:

Our new anxiety section focuses on stress, OCD and phobia as well as just plain old anxiety. We look at the different conditions in the spectrum, at treatments and – key to this age group – at how anxiety affects your relationships and how you can deal with it. We also crowd-sourced tips on dealing with anxiety from TheSite users.

Our depression section focuses on helping young people understand and manage depression. Everyone gets low sometimes, but when do you need help? We cover the typical ‘I hate my life and I want to die’ that every young person goes through, to the moments of desperation – how can you support someone who wants to kill themselves, what should you do if you feel that way yourself?

Our users talk over and over again about feeling confused about treatment options, so we asked a psychiatrist to explain the options and talk about how to deal with doctors who prescribe antidepressants without discussing the alternatives. We also look at how depression affects friends, family and romance.

We’ve improved our Looking after yourself and Supporting others info and our coverage of more serious conditions like personality disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis.

Real people’s stories

We’ve commissioned lots of first-person stories about the conditions we cover – here’s one about being admitted to a psychiatric ward by bipolar blogger Georgia and another about being the child of hoarders (hoarding is a form of OCD).

Another strand of this work focuses on young people’s stories about how they overcame barriers to getting support. For example, here’s Ladybird explaining how she struggled to get a repeat prescription for antidepressants after moving cities.

What we’ve learned from this project

We’ve had the privilege of peeking inside the lives of young people who are managing severe conditions like bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. It was eye-opening to discover how such outwardly articulate and motivated individuals can be fighting huge internal battles, often in secret.

While it sounds trite, we’ve also discovered that mental health really is a spectrum. There is no definitive line between well and healthy, and most, if not all of us, will slip and slide around the spectrum during our lives.

The other big thing we learned is that young people are desperate for support with managing the impact mental health has on their relationships – whether they’re single or with someone, mental health is an added complication in an already complicated area. We’re launching another round of work focusing on this in February.

As ever feedback is welcome so please drop me a line in the comments if you’d like to make any suggestions about this work or future areas you think we should cover.

Want to help us out?

If you are a young person with experience of mental health issues – your own or someone else’s –  or an organisation that supports young people with mental health, and would be happy to support our wider publicity around anxiety and depression in early 2014 please contact our media team media@youthnet.org

By

Published on 22-Nov-2013