Resilience seems to have become a buzz word at the minute. More and more nowadays I’m hearing the term in a variety of contexts, not always directly related to mental health.
However to me, resilience seems to be a bit of a wishy washy term. Maybe it’s because you can’t physically “see” it as such? When I was first introduced to the idea of resilience in a direct way it took a while for me to get my head around it.
I am part of a project called HeadStart. The aim is to build the emotional resilience of those aged 10-14, equipping them with tools to succeed and in doing so hopefully preventing the onset of common mental health problems. On Monday I co-facilitated workshops for young people at the National HeadStart Conference in London. We covered the idea of resilience, who helps us to build resilience and how they do so, why it is important to reach young people who may find it hard to engage for a variety of reasons (those not in school, those with other responsibilities like young carers etc) and how everyone’s input is vital for successful co-production. What we tried to show was that resilience is not just from within us – other people and situations can contribute to our resilience, and likewise, we can contribute to the resilience of others. It struck me that this is what I had struggled in understanding initially, I had thought that it came solely from within me and if I wasn’t particularly resilient one day then I was just a failure. I have a tendency to think catastrophically and in a very “black and white way” meaning that to me if I wasn’t resilient enough then I may as well just sleep away the rest of my life because why not?
It has taken a while for me to grasp the fact the resilience is fairly “liquid”, there are times in our life when we will be masters of bouncing back, and other times when we will be more vulnerable to difficult situations becoming overwhelming. That is no reflection on us, or our abilities! We can all harness our resilience and take simple steps to improve it.
Something I also wanted to address was the idea that simply building up resilience is the answer to everything. Now I am not a mental health professional, I am a 17 year old service user – but I think that the importance of early interventions should not be forgotten. Resilience and looking after your well-being is all well and good but is not a complete answer if someone is struggling with their mental health. I am just hoping that it is not seen as a replacement for other types of intervention for those who need it. Building emotional resilience and teaching young people the “5 ways to wellbeing” isn’t necessarily going to eliminate the risk of them developing mental health problems. If I had been aware of things I could have done to help myself at 12, I’m still pretty sure that I would have got ill regardless. Maybe it would have manifested in a different way but it wouldn’t have stopped it.
Just some thoughts for today!