Prioritising Emotional Wellbeing

A Blog by MAP CEO, Dan Mobbs

Strong foundations; the building blocks for good mental health.




So, first of all, let’s understand mental health like we understand physical health. Physical health covers a lot of ground. When I’m really ill and in bed for a week with the flu (not man flu – real flu) – I know that’s about my physical health. When I’m thinking about whether to have an extra biscuit – I know that’s about my physical health. But with mental health we haven’t yet got this worked out. If I’m in bed for a week with depression – that’s mental health. If I’m thinking about everything I have to do and feeling stressed – that’s mental health. That’s why we need to think about it broadly. It includes everything from emotional wellbeing to enduring mental illness. We know what good physical health is, let’s think about good mental health.

Young people need good mental health as a basis to be able to learn, achieve – follow their dreams, create aspirations, go for it. Without it, everything is much more difficult. Without self-belief, self-esteem, optimism, joy, things feel a lot harder to achieve. Talents are held back.

And if you have a bad start in life the barriers grow. A child whose parents can’t provide warmth, love, who doesn’t develop secure attachments, may feel insecure. They could be drawn in to “he said, she said” or feel isolated, angry or on edge. It’s much harder to concentrate at school or even to dream about the future. Without emotional security we can feel like we’re blowing in the wind.

We need support. We need places to explore emotions, learn communication, learn how to regulate, understand what’s happening. And without support, it’s very hard to change. Being criticised, punished, excluded because you find it hard to manage your feelings just creates bigger problems – bad mental health. Being excluded from school means you are seven times more likely to end up in prison. Society can’t afford this. And then you grow up and become a parent yourself. If you don’t have your own good mental health it’s harder to pass that on to your children. You may be full of love for your child but need support to create the emotional security you want for them. This can be exhausting – and massively rewarding.

We can’t afford bad mental health. So many challenges for young people are about emotional wellbeing. Sexual health, drugs/alcohol, online abuse, bullying, relationships, unplanned pregnancy, aggression, crime. Having good mental health puts you in a strong position to deal with these challenges and take control of your life.

For us at MAP this is relational work. Providing consistent support based on purposeful therapeutic relationships – counselling, mentoring, informal education. Someone to go back to. Someone to encourage, challenge, understand you. This is not novel but it is skilful, evidence based. It is human. It is not apps. It is not ground breaking, cutting edge, new, exciting. Novel ideas are often emotionally immature! And us folk who work like this, to improve emotional wellbeing with the young people, we need to be dedicated to our own good mental health. This is emotionally mature. Recognising our own mental health needs – providing support, supervision, and training. We need to focus hard on this.

Good mental health is our foundation for life. Investing in it leads to good returns.

Picture credit; Michal-Parzuchowski.


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