? The Importance of Journaling (Part 2) ?
The Art of Problem-Solving & Emotional Intelligence
Childhood and young adulthood are crucial periods in the development of our student’s mental health.
That’s not a statement of opinion. A study by Kessler et al. showed that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
Without appropriate intervention during this period, emotional disorders can develop unrestrained. As a result, children may find themselves shackled with disturbances that shadow them for life.
? Is the UK experiencing a child & adolescent “Mental Health Crisis?” ?
The trend certainly appears to be heading in the wrong direction.
Statistics show that the number of antidepressants prescribed to children in England has risen by 15% in the past 3 years.
In 2004, a Government report found that 1 in 10 children suffer from a mental disorder. In the recent 2017 update, that figure had risen to 1 in 9.
One finding of the report caught our eye in particular:
“[...] low levels of social support, a smaller social network, and not participating in clubs or organisations (either in or out of school) were all associated with the presence of mental disorder”.
Social isolation, lack of community, lack of structure outside of school; these are all risk factors in the development of an emotional disorder.
Additionally, certain areas of the UK lose out on the “postcode lottery” for Youth access to Mental Health facilities.
Unfortunately, the Midlands are one of the lottery losers ?
Since InPower CIC was launched in 2016, we’ve seen a common trend among many of the pupils attending our after-school programs across the East & West Midlands.
1️⃣. They have problems in their personal lives.
2️⃣. They have difficulty in emotionally processing these issues.
3️⃣. They resort to challenging behaviour both in and out of the classroom, primarily as a coping mechanism for the above-mentioned difficulties.
It may sometimes be necessary, but punishment for displaying challenging behaviour is a fairly band-aid solution. At best it contains the issue, at worst it exacerbates the behaviour.
Now, we know there is limited help anyone can offer for some of the serious life-problems these kids face.
But, we thought to ourselves, there is something we can do about the second problem.
We believe the more a child or young adult is able to emotionally process the adversity they face in their life, the greater the chance they have of overcoming it.
Adversity can breed many negative emotions; anger, resentment, panic, fear, apathy, detachment - the list goes on.
Without proper emotional processing, we see kids resort to challenging behaviours in an effort to cope with the pain these emotions cause them.
The patterns can be clearly seen:
1️⃣. Anger and resentment can lead to lashing out at others in frustration; commonly seen in Bullying.
2️⃣. Fear and panic can manifest in a sense of deep insecurity. These children are more likely to become the victims of Bullying, or experience symptoms of Depression & Anxiety.
3️⃣. Apathy and detachment can lead to students displaying disinterest in their school work; negatively affecting their classroom performance.
Instead of looking just to punish kids & young adults for their challenging behaviour, we understand these behaviours are often coping mechanisms for deeper emotional issues.
So, we look to equip them with the necessary life skills to empower them. To help them process their emotional pain at its root causes.
This is the core principle behind the journal segment of our ‘Warriors of Wellbeing’ program ?
Each child or young adult receives their own ‘Warrior Journal’, and over the course of 12 weeks, they use their journals, alongside group discussion, to help process the challenges they face.
Guided by the program’s characters ‘Toby & Rose’, the kids are led through a series of topics addressing a range of life issues and challenging emotions. The students are given time to reflect on these topics both in a group setting and in private, armed with their journals.
The group discussion fosters a sense of community, as well as empathy with each other’s struggles. The sense of ‘being in this together’ is the ideal solution for cases of social isolation.
Journaling then creates an additional sacred space where the students can be alone with their thoughts, and process any issues they prefer to explore privately.
Why are we so passionate about the power of journaling? ✒️
Journaling is the art of self-reflection and problem solving. Throughout history, journaling has been used by great men and women to help them overcome the extraordinary challenges thrown in their paths.
In fact if you look into it (which we did), you’ll find it’s harder to find great men & women who didn’t keep a journal in the past.
❌ Unfortunately, journaling is a forgotten art. Especially among the youth ❌
The humble pen & paper has been replaced by flashier alternatives. Smartphone Apps pscyhologically designed to hold attention and breed addiction. Endless, irrelevant noise and poor-quality ‘role-models’ in the Media.
But the constant distraction drowns out the chance for reflection. (And, incidentally, excessive social media use was also flagged as a risk factor in the NHS report).
Our kids are left with the same timeless problems past generations faced, but without the same tools to manage them.
The humble journal provides a sacred moment of stillness. A chance not only to ‘press pause’ on life, but for these kids to actively think about the problems they face. A chance to understand how to emotionally process their adversity.
Journaling is the key to boosting their emotional resilience, and empower them to thrive, not just survive, in the face of their challenges.
To see themselves no longer as the victims of their circumstances, but the Heroes of their stories ?
? That’s why we’re so passionate about journaling! ?
There’s not much we can do about the cards life has dealt to many of our students, but we believe we CAN help them with HOW they deal with them.
To allow them the best chance to thrive in their lives, no matter their disadvantages. They deserve that opportunity, and we believe we have the right tools for them to seize it.
Let’s round-up this article with a quote from the great Stoic and noted ‘journaler’, Seneca.
“It does not matter what you bear, but how you bear it”
Thanks for reading.