Of all the subjects we’ve covered so far on Raising Teens, this one was the biggest eye-opener for me. Our teen reporter, Lola, interviewed some amazing teens who give honest accounts of how loneliness and social anxiety has affected them.
Did you know that Brighton has the most internet searches for the word ‘lonely’? In 2016 Childline saw a marked increase in the number of children who felt “miserable, misunderstood or isolated” with many too “embarrassed” to admit to feeling lonely. There are many reasons cited including the pressures of social media, bullying, moving home or school, living in care or having an illness or disability. We felt that it was important to cover loneliness and social anxiety in teens this series. And from Lola’s interviews, we found that it was something that teenagers often hide and it’s just not talked about.
Our guests gave advice for teens who might be suffering from loneliness and social anxiety, and for parents:
Think about who your young person can speak to – it doesn’t have to be a parent or adult. As a parent, reach out to your young person and get them to talk to their friends or anyone they feel comfortable with.
For a teenager, find that one person that understands you – that could be within a school setting. It could be a friend, family. And parents should always share their concerns with school. They can help.
For parents – start young and enable your young people, as they grow into teenagers, to feel confident. Join clubs finding different groups of people to be around. Breathing techniques are invaluable – so breathe out for longer than you breathe in as it switches off the fight or flight response. If you’re out in social situations, get them to focus outside themselves – ask them how many different colours can they see, how many different types of footwear. If they’re less internally focused, they are more able to connect, and when we connect, we are not lonely.
Help & advice
YMCA – Brighton’s Youth Advice Centre is a safe space where any young person age 13-25 can talk to a worker one-to-one and receive support
Daily drop in Monday-Thurs 3-6pm and Friday 3-5.30pm, 11 St Georges Place, Brighton BN1 4GB
Albion in the Community, working to improve health and wellbeing, education and aspirations of Brighton’s community
Premier League Kicks is a project that offers free weekly football sessions to children between 7 and 18 and combines free football with workshops and lifestyle advice in subjects like domestic violence, anti-homophobia, anti-racism, substance misuse and road safety.
Childline offers support and advice for young people who feel lonely or isolated
Call Childline for free on 0800 1111
Anxiety UK has information, resources and support for parents and young people suffering from social anxiety as well as an online chat service