5 ways to support the young people in your life as we emerge from lockdown

Vikas Shah shares 5 positive influences for society to adopt when it comes to supporting young people as we emerge from the pandemic.

Prioritise Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in education

Emotional intelligence and resilience can and should absolutely be taught. Why is it that when we’re growing up, we’re not talking about how people work? We’re not taught about body language, how to understand people, how to understand ourselves, our own emotions, what anxiety is, what depression is and how we manage our thoughts. It seems strange doesn’t it when our mind is a lens with which we perceive the world, and when other people’s minds perceive and interact with us. And weirdly. It’s one of the things I’m thankful for in the mental health journey that I’ve been through. All that therapy, all that reading, it gave me a much deeper sense of intelligence, and as a result I feel that I’m now, much better with people. We ought to be prioritising them on the education agenda. 

Find and use a day to day mental health language 

It shocks me that we haven’t really found the language to deal with mental health issues yet. Having spoken to world experts on the subject they are also shocked. The brain is arguably the most complex object in the universe. We all have one. And there’s a good chance that something so complex will go wrong. Go figure. 

You know, it should be obvious in the same way that it’s obvious that we get sick sometimes, pull a muscle, get aches and pains. 

But it seems odd that we don’t give that same benefit to our minds. To me that says that we’ve not found the right language when it comes to speaking about it in day to day life. 

Encourage young people to Dare to Dream

We have to give young people opportunities. I’ve done quite a few talks in schools over the past few years and when I ask young people what they want to do a lot of responses aren’t too good or if anything are along the lines of ‘I want to be famous or a footballer’. 

You don’t really hear young people talk about careers, you don’t really hear them talk about a future and it seems like there’s a sense of hopelessness. Add to that an economy that’s broken along with so many issues and it’s difficult to find hope, especially when you’re a young person and you may not have the resources to pay for your own education and get through. 

So, we have to find a way of making young people feel like there is a better future that’s worth pursuing. We often think of American culture being a bit cheesy. But one thing they do well is aspiration and making people feel that if you work to a dream you can get ahead and build a better life. Culturally, that’s one thing we need to find a way of getting into people because if we can’t give young people hope there’s no incentive to try.

Understand what masculinity now is

Masculinity came up when speaking to Professor Green and others including Marcus Trecothick. Perhaps our modern version of masculinity has got a lot of things to answer for in terms of the pressures we’ve put on what it means to be a man. Our misunderstanding of what it means to be a man compounds the problem further. 

Embrace rapid change as a new norm

The pace of change across all aspects of our life is now running at such a pace that we have to make sure that we are at least emotionally and psychologically prepared for the unexpected. To begin any journey we need to be resilient, personally, mentally and physically. We are living through a global scale natural disaster which has shown us how quickly the world can change, as what is now normal would have seemed anathema around a year ago. Young people should be encouraged to embrace this rapid change. 

Vikas Shah MBE says, “If this pandemic had happened even a decade ago we would not have had the technology, or the capacity to create a vaccine as quickly as we did. It has been a phenomenal testament to human ingenuity and progress that this has been able to happen. You know, every single day around the world hundreds of thousands of people are lifted out of poverty. Our world is getting ‘net’ better as much as it’s hard to see that at times. 

“While this pandemic is bad it could have been a hell of a lot worse. In terms of what viruses are capable we’ve been let off relatively easily. In that sense this has to be a warning shot even though it was only a matter of time before we had a global pandemic. 

“As a society I think it has taught us the importance of community. It’s taught us the importance of looking after each other and that actual capacity within communities to give and support. I hope that stays with us because when the next pandemic comes we’ll need to draw on all of that again.”

Vivek’s book Thought Economics; conversations with the remarkable people shaping our century was released earlier this month.

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