Can We Talk About Mental Wellbeing for young people?

On April 8th, the St Benedict’s Young Adults group hosted guest speaker Lloyd Fernandez (Clinical Psychologist) on a very pertinent topic: Mental Wellbeing for young people.

The talk was tuned towards young adults specifically millennials; and discussed identifying and addressing mental health issues.

It was identified that the two most common issues millennials face are Anxiety and Depression.

Some statistics:

  • 1 in 5 Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any given year.
  • Onset of mental illness is typically around mid-to-late adolescence and youth 18-24 years have highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group.

Referencing a short clip from the widely popular animation movie Inside Out, Lloyd noted the importance of acknowledging our feelings both as a way of recovering from anxiety or depression but also in minimizing it from developing.

It would not be a stretch to say that all of us have experienced some form of suffering recently that has caused physical, emotional or spiritual pain.

It may be that we are struggling to find meaning in our lives, having trouble dealing with a life transition, or dealing with the challenges of a more serious emotional disorder.

So, how does this all relate back to Catholicism and the church?

Life isn’t always easy, and it isn’t going to always be positive all the time. We all go through trials and tribulations.

As Catholics, we can look to Christ’s suffering as an example of his sacrifice and love for us; and unite our sorrow with his by offering it up to God.

‘By His passion and death on the Cross, Christ has given a new meaning to suffering . . . it can unite us with His redemptive passion’ (CCC 1505).

Lloyd also pointed out that the resurrection of Christ is just as important as the death of Christ. When we give our pain to Christ, we are opening ourselves up to grace.

Besides our faith, there are also other ways to reach out for help when we need it. When people need additional support, they might turn to a professional such as a GP or psychologist.

A question was raised about whether one should “give up” if they felt that consulting a professional did not help them. It is important to know that every GP and psychologist is different, and there are many different models of therapy and counselling. You can ask your trained professional what model they use and give them feedback on whether you think it is working for you.

As a young person, we should also remember to keep our families and friends close to heart. They form the basis of our foundational support. Lloyd said: “At least half the people I see in my practice book an appointment at the recommendation of a friend or family member.”

How about if you are concerned for a friend or family member?

Here are some methods to approach someone you are concerned about:

  • Request a private chat
  • Be non-judgmental and share your concerns. Tell them what you have noticed about their behaviour. E.g.- “I’ve noticed that you look a little withdrawn lately” or “you’re not looking yourself, is something bothering you, are you ok?”
  • “Have you spoken to someone? Have you thought of seeing a counsellor?”
  • “Would you like me to come with you?”

Finally, Lloyd shared some useful tips for Wellbeing:

  • Self-care: diet, exercise, sleep
  • Do something you enjoy or used to enjoy regularly.
  • Engage in meaningful work or study
  • Contribute to your community
  • Relaxation, prayer, meditation
  • Faith dimension – nourish your faith, connect with the faith community

For further information, please refer to the Beyond Blue website (www.beyondblue.org.au). Please contact Lifeline or speak to a health professional if you need further support.

written by St Benedict’s Young Adults Group