Young people's mental health in the spotlight after lockdown

Extra support is now available for teenagers in the High Peak as they navigate the transition from childhood to becoming adults.

It’s all part of the efforts of Penny Smith to break down the stigma around mental health and help ensure people get the support they need.

As a school counsellor she has seen first-hand the growing need for additional mental health support to be made available and is now able to offer private one-to-one therapy sessions from her new base in Glossop.

Penny, who also runs a walk and talk service for adults said: “Some teenagers do struggle. It is a difficult time for them.”

However, lockdown and the restrictions implemented due to the pandemic have also had an impact.

“We can’t imagine what it is like when confined to your room because of the pandemic at a time that is really a lot about finding yourself, becoming independent, going outside, being with other people, socialising.

“Teenage years are when we find who we are. They do that by mixing with their peers in school or out. Having had that taken away for so many months it does really create a problem with low confidence, anxiety, low self-esteem and low mood.”

She said teenagers have spent more time than ever on computer games and social media to keep them busy but that has also had a direct impact on mental health.

“They don’t talk. It is all swipe and scroll. I think it exacerbates any existing issues, feeling not good about yourself and comparing your life to others.

“School provides a platform for communication as you have got things to talk about school is not just about lessons so much more going on.

“At home you really become very alienated from the outside world and that has an impact on many many kids.

“Some are able to get up and get back up into the swing of routine others find it really difficult, anxiety is quite a big issue and just generally feeling low, demotivated.”

Now with her new sessions she hopes to be able to provide that much needed support to teenagers.

Penny has 15 years’ experience of working in schools, running a Youth theatre and now counselling. 

“It is lovely when I see progress, moods lifting, anxieties easing as clients are able to feel better.”

While there is a charge for Penny’s time it is on a sliding scale of what the person can afford to pay.

These new sessions, in person, via the phone or Zoom, are in addition to ‘The Big Step Walk and Talk Therapy’.

To find out more visit Penny’s Facebook pages The Big Step Teenage Counsellor and The Big Step Walk and Talk Therapy or call 07507 703726.

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