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What we are looking for
So, what are we looking for in someone who is supporting us in crisis?
Stuart: So what are we looking for, in a person that supports us in crisis? We asked young people from across England, and have put together the top 4 traits that we want you to have.
Atlanta: Number 1 – Empathy and understanding
Stuart: Acknowledge that you don’t know everything, and won’t necessarily relate to what the young person is experiencing, but you’re working to understand where they’re coming from.
Atlanta: Number 2 – Active listening
Stuart: Young people want to feel heard. In a world that often diminishes our importance, you can be the someone that is there to listen. Remember to listen with the intention to understand, and not necessarily to respond.
Atlanta: Number 3 – Trust us and recognise we are doing our best
Stuart: When we do share, believe us. Trust in what we are saying, don’t dismiss it or push it aside.
Atlanta: Number 4 – Show genuine interest in us
Stuart: It’s really beneficial when someone shows interest in what we have to say, not only believing, but genuinely wanting to hear more.
Jas: One worker really restored my faith in services; his attentiveness, his acknowledgement of perhaps the flaws in the system, and his kindness and empathy really sort of resonated with me and stayed with me to this day. Continuing to advocate for my mental wellbeing while continuing to acknowledge how difficult it was for me at the time was something that I just thought was invaluable. Being able to work so closely with that person and have a lot of trust in somebody care about you and, I guess do what needs doing in order to support you best.
I think, obviously balance is important in support workers and people working in crisis care. But I do think he had this very calming manner, and a sort of very to-the-point approach in terms of discussing how the services work and what he could and couldn’t do. And he just treated me like a human, and I think that was the most fundamental thing, was this connection that I feel like is often lacked… it’s very clinical, in a lot of aspects when accessing mental health care, and it just wasn’t like that, it was just like having a friend – but who would be able to do things for you.
I guess the one thing I would say is just that humanity and that authentic caring about somebody just came across really well in this person. He was just very human, he didn’t sort of go by the book in the way that some people perhaps feel like they have to. He was just constantly supportive and proactive and attentive, and I think those are qualities that some people perhaps might overlook sometimes when they’re just stressed and stuff, and it was so very rare, and refreshing, and wonderful.
The idea of somebody who sort of understood the full picture of things, and simultaneously deeply cared for me, seemed to be a really rare experience. And having that, almost like, sort of a friend that I could talk to and that I could have trust in was unbelievably beneficial for me. Just because I’d felt so isolated and alone at that time, and just knowing that steps were being taken to get me better, and having somebody to confide in was absolutely unbelievably important to me.
I think without having access to a person like that who is advocating for you and who you can trust, it can be such a terrifying, lonely experience trying to access and stay in mental health services. And I think you can really quickly lose hope when it feels like nobody understands and nobody is on your side and nobody really seems to care. I think having somebody in the institution to be able to do that… it would be wonderful if all young people felt that supported. It would make a humongous change.
Atlanta: When we need help, we are looking for someone who we can trust. Someone that will listen with an open mind, and accept us as we are.
Stuart: As one young person summed it up, “Treat us how you would like to be treated.”
When we need help, we are looking for someone who we can trust. Someone who will listen with an open mind and accept us as we are.
The top 4 qualities that young people look for in someone supporting them might overlap with your role and organisational values. This is great! However, it is not an exhaustive list.
It is important to find methods of embedding these top 4 traits into every interaction with young people. The personal experience shared by one of the young advisors in the video is a great example of how these traits can be applied in a conversation or when chasing up records, to achieve a positive experience for both you and the young person!
One young person summed up that they are looking ‘to be treated how you would like to be treated.’
Are there any traits you land strongly on, and others you don’t? How can you ensure you can bring these 4 traits into practice? Which are harder when you are busy and feeling stressed?