Helping our youth through trying times
The past 18 months have seen all of us adjusting to a new, and often-changing norm. And whilst the impact of the pandemic fares better for some than others, there is a spotlight on young people’s mental health.
Volunteering is an impactful and direct way to make a difference in young people’s lives.
The current state of mental ill health in young people
Headspace conducted a 2020 National Youth Mental Health Survey* where more than 1000 youth aged 12–25 participated. Among the findings, one in two young people reported being unable to carry out their daily activities due to a decline in wellbeing. This number was up from two in five in 2018.
Adolescence and young adulthood are pivotal periods for developing individual identity and gaining independence in the wider world. It is a phase of life when friends and peers play a paramount role in general wellbeing and outlook.
With schools forced to close, young people have missed out on face-to-face social connections, extra-curricular activities and school milestones. They’ve had to adapt to an inordinate amount of screen time, plugging in for learning, homework, socialising and even physical activity.
Many psychologists believe that the lack of physical interaction and connection has made it difficult for people to co-regulate their emotions.
Volunteering to support young people
A search on SEEK Volunteer presents current volunteering opportunities available around the country (filter by location to specify for your area). Here, you’ll be able to find a volunteering role working with disadvantaged young people directly, or assisting an organisation that helps young people, using your unique skills. For example, you can help broaden children’s horizons and imagine a future they might never have considered by coming a role model. In this volunteer opportunity with the Tertiary Education Commission, students will learn about your job, why you love doing it, as well as your journey to get there.
There are other roles such as Reading Buddies, Youth Program Leaders, Driving Mentors, Recruitment Managers and Tutors. Where social distancing is mandatory, many volunteer opportunities have adapted to remote, online models.
Volunteering as a mentor of young people
Mentoring a young person is a wonderful way to impact lives directly, offering support and guidance to people who can really benefit from a positive role model.
SEEK Volunteer’s mentoring category can help you find mentor positions in organisations that facilitate matches with mentees. Many of these organisations provide training and support so that volunteers feel confident they’re empowering their mentees in the right areas of their lives.
Volunteering in Family Services to help young people
A healthy family unit is essential in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of young people. If family relationships are strained, or if there is abuse, young people have few outlets when they’re stuck in a damaging environment.
Supporting a healthy and effective family unit increases the chances of positive outcomes for young people. There are many volunteer opportunities in our Family Services category where you could transport young people to activities they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to, or provide housekeeping or meal deliveries to families doing it tough.
Every little act of kindness matters. Whether you can help a young person on just one occasion or commit to an extended period of mentorship, volunteering to reduce the impacts of today’s youth mental health crisis is a truly valuable contribution to the world.
(*research was conducted in Australia)