We think every day should be World Mental Health Day. Because more needs to be done to help those who need it. We’re working with teens to highlight their wellbeing and to give them a voice. We’re also giving parents support in our brand new series of Raising Teens, starting on Monday 4 November on BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey. This series we’re looking at teen anger, alcohol, grief, self-harm, family breakdowns, eating disorders, loneliness and the teenage brain. Each episode includes the voices of teens, interviewed by our teen reporter Lola, and advice from parents and experts. 

Raising Teens radio show promotional image

On World Mental Health Day, we’re calling for more should be invested in our young people – from a better education system – one that feeds our children’s minds and creativity and doesn’t exclude those who don’t fit – youth clubs and out of school support, all of which has seen a huge cut in funding over the past decade. The number of teenage suicides has risen 67% between 2010 and 2017 in England and Wales according to the Office for National Statistics. We think there should also be more support for parents and carers, teachers and health workers dealing with the rise in young people with mental health issues.

You can catch up on all of series 1 of Raising Teens which covers social media, school stress, sleep, resilience, body image, relationships, the teen brain and teen language. 

Plus, here are a ton of really useful links that we’ve collected along the way from all the amazing experts we spoke to.  If we’ve missed any really good organisations from our list, let us know in the comments below. Thank you!

Make (Good) Trouble’s mission is to help break down the barriers between teens and adults, to put paid to the myth that teenagers are just sullen, snowflakey beings that need to “grow up”, “pipe down” or “behave”.

A brand new book – out today – really chimes with our purpose. ‘Why Your Parents Are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It’ is a brand new book written for teenagers by neuroscientist Dean Burnett. The book describes in glorious detail how the changes in the teenage brain fundamentally affect the relationship teens have with their parents. It looks into how parents’ fixed brains are befuddled by their teen’s seemingly risky, volatile, unthinking behaviour. It includes fantastic troubleshooting guides for teens to help with their parents’ inflexible demands – bringing understanding – and hopefully some sense of calm – on both sides. Want to know why your parents think “you treat this house like a hotel?” Dean Burnett explains. And yes, it’s the parents’ fault. 

“The truth is, you have always treated the house like a hotel, by assuming your parents will take care of all the housework. Because for your whole life thus far, they did!”

Dan Burnett: Why Your Parents Are Driving You Up the Wall and What to Do About It

It’s intelligently written – which is what you’d expect from a neuroscientist! – but as it’s aimed at teens (who start at 10 years old by the way). It’s refreshingly frank, warm, honest and funny and really does relate to all the realities of the parent-teen relationship. 

The book is particularly fascinating when it comes to descriptions of the brain and how it works, giving us a real insight into the teenage brain and how it impacts on everything from sleep, social media and school to family and mental health. 

Read this book if you’re a teenager. If you know a teen, do them a favour and buy them a copy.

Raising Teens is back for a second series in Autumn 2019 with a further eight one hour shows covering the issues that are concerning parents today. Guy Lloyd will be back with us as host, and Lola, our roving teen reporter will be joined by new recruit Kya McCartney, 18.

We’ll be covering everything from alcohol and anger to self-harm and loneliness. Plus we’ll be re-visiting the fascinating subject of the teenage brain.

If you have a question or something to contribute, please leave a comment below.

Lola and Kya
Our Raising Teens teen reporters, Lola and Kya

Once again mental health is on the front pages of the papers and it reminded me that our recently concluded radio series, Raising Teens, on BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey has highlighted the positive.

In episode after episode, the teenagers we spoke to showed themselves to be eloquent and possessing the language and knowledge to speak up about mental health. As one listener said of the teens featured in the show: I love their optimism, their kindness and care.”

As our teen reporter, Lola, put it: “We will become more emotionally intelligent than past generations have ever been because we are able to express ourselves more openly and freely without shame or discouragement from our peers, adults or parents. I think we as a generation will become resilient because we are able to talk about [mental health] and communicate more openly.” 

BBC Sussex Raising Teens presenter Guy Lloyd and teen reporter Lola Ray
Raising Teens presenter Guy Lloyd and teen reporter Lola Ray

But it’s high time the rest of us caught up. The Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, this week reported on the postcode lottery affecting children most in need. In a scathing report Longfield writes:

“The Prime Minister today called for all teachers to be trained to spot emerging mental health conditions in kids – I don’t think they have that much trouble spotting them; they have trouble finding anyone to treat them. I have called for a long time for a CAMHS professional to be available in every school. Now, on the day we hear that teenagers in Liverpool are being paid £1,000 to stab other kids and the Government publicly recognises that one in ten kids with a social worker lurches in and out of the service for 4-5 years, the PM calls for a twiddle to teacher training?” 

This will just be heaping another responsibility on beleaguered teachers – today the OECD have published a report showing that teachers in England have longer working days than anywhere other than Japan. Here’s a thought – why not have teachers focus on what they do best: teach and inspire our children?

This week Action for Children reported on a huge decline in early years’ childcare and support saying that Sure Start centres were closing with a 62% cut in early years’ service spending since 2010. This means that those needing the most help are the least likely to get it, shoring up problems in later years. Couple that with what comes later – namely school stress and the relentless exam focus, it’s a ticking time bomb… We looked at school stress and what teens and parents can do to help in Raising Teens. You can listen to the episode on BBC Sounds.  

If you have listened to any of the shows, please let us know what you think in our very brief survey. Your feedback will help to shape our future projects – of which there are plenty in the pipeline (watch this space!) Thank you!

Raising Teens radio show on BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey made with Make (Good) Trouble CIC