A LEADING charity boss in Harwich has warned the generation of children at school during the pandemic are still struggling with socialisation and their mental health.

Teen Talk is a registered charity with works with young people between the ages of 11 to 25, providing one on one support and other interventions, and was awarded the prestigious Queen Award’s for voluntary services in 2019.

Chief executive of Teen Talk Hayley Lovett said the service was about “giving a safe space” for young people to talk through their issues and to encourage them to be positive about their self-worth.

Hayley added that many teenagers were turning to online self-help due to a lack of services.

She said: “You might ask for that instant answer but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that answer is going to be right, or it might not be right for you.

“If you imagine how many searches you do, say 20, then put it in paper context you would have a pile high of paper which would be a lot of information to absorb. That’s why I really promote the face to face and the talking side of things. “

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: School - Support workers Lynne and Becky doing a workshop at Hamford Primary AcademySchool - Support workers Lynne and Becky doing a workshop at Hamford Primary Academy (Image: Submitted)

Another way Teen Talk helps is by going directly into schools, offering the same one-to-one sessions, which improves school attendance, and by providing resilience workshops.

Hayley explained one focus of the resilience workshops is on children transitioning to secondary school - which was particularly affected by the pandemic.

She said: “You’ve got to consider some people started the pandemic in primary school and ended in secondary school in Year 9.

“It’s the adjustment we see in young people that they are still struggling with. It’s the social skills that are the biggest thing they are with, that was lost for this generation really.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Holidays - Note February 11-16 on the poster is actually April 11-16Holidays - Note February 11-16 on the poster is actually April 11-16 (Image: Submitted)

The charity’s cut-off point is the age of 25 with the goal being the young person has had enough help and Hayley said the charity offers a fixed number of sessions.

This means that in six months, or longer, the young person can get back in the contact with their support worker which is important for the vast amount of variable stress that can happen in young people’s lives including exam season.

With so much pressure on academic success, the charity helps young people find volunteering work placements and employment opportunities to show them the “taste of a work environment” while they get support for their mental health.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Help - Regular donators are needed for the charity to keep providing its supportHelp - Regular donators are needed for the charity to keep providing its support (Image: Submitted)

As well as academic pressure, Hayley said the cost of living was hard for young people and added: “Young people are living in a very quick changing world at the moment, and we need to recognise that it is a different thing to what other generations experienced.

“For them to move into adulthood, there are the struggles of becoming financially viable and for them to be able to move into their own accommodation. This is at the other end of the struggles of school, and different than other generations.”  

When asked about comments that children are more resilient naturally about their mental health and can “bounce back more easily”. 

Hayley said: “It’s not respecting the young person’s feelings.

“Sometimes young people can referred to us because of their behaviour, but it is the often the one sitting quietly and disengaging who I would say are more of a worry, as they are just getting lost in the system”

In Easter, there will be a couple of sessions as well as one-to-one support sessions available during the week.

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