Supporting Mental Health – Victoria Hornby

In light of the mental health tragedies incurred by Marlburians over the last few years, Victoria Hornby (B3 1984-86) shared her views in the 2023 Club Magazine on the impact today’s world is having on young people’s mental health and what we can do to help.

As Chief Executive of Mental Health Innovations, a charity that runs Shout 85258, the UK’s only 24/7 text based mental health support service, Victoria has a wealth of experience in seeing the first-hand effects of mental health.

Statistics have shown that the decline in young people’s mental health has accelerated in recent years. Factors which have contributed to this include pressures on social media, the pandemic and the rising cost of living. Adolescence has always known to be a difficult time for young people due to the rapid physical and neurological changes your body goes through. Knowing and understanding the impacts these changes have, and helping young people prepare for them, is key. Not only is this the period where young people are establishing their friendship groups and stepping into independence, but also become more aware of and worry about wider global issues and how this could impact their future. The growing dependence to digital devices only adds to the growing pressure and all this combined can leave young people vulnerable to excessive worrying and anxiety.

It is critical that young people can identify and are made aware of the people (personal and professional) or organisations that make up their support structure and they feel able to reach for support when required. Whilst mental health can often feel like a difficult conversation to navigate, here are some useful suggestions for parents:

  • Create opportunities for regular focused, tech free conversations. Eg how was their day, what was the highlight and was difficult.
  • Give examples of how you deal with challenges in life and helpful ways you found to cope.

Most schools now have a range of support options available for their pupils. At Marlborough, this includes:

  • House pastoral teams
  • Free counselling service
  • School psychologist
  • Director of Safeguarding
  • Team of Wellbeing Ambassadors
  • A comprehensive PSHEE curriculum
  • CPOMS (Child Protection Online Management System) for recording pastoral concerns

With that in mind, remember to check in with friends and family, take time away from social media and spread awareness of services out there for those who may need it.