Exploring Emotional Health – Six Workshop Outlines for Youth Leaders
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‘Exploring Emotional Health is the go-to essential resource for all youth leaders tackling some of the most common mental and emotional health challenges young people face today.
Youth Work Practitioner Liz Edge provides six ready-to-go workshops covering: self-esteem; anxiety; depression; self-harm; and identifying and coping with emotions, to enable even the busiest of youth leaders to provide effective support in building resilient young people.’
A book of 108 pages. There is a brief introduction explaining why this subject is so important plus a couple of pages on safeguarding and professional practice. Then the following six chapters explore each of the different workshops. Each chapter has an introduction to the topic for the leader, helping them process it for themselves, where to go for further advice and some questions to pause and reflect on. It is then followed by a detailed explanation of the workshop, with extra explanation of how to make the most of the different components. Then at the end of the chapters, the workshops are repeated, this time without the leader’s commentary, so they can be photocopied more easily.
Each workshop varies in style, but most start with an icebreaker type activity to introduce and explain the topic, so that the young people have a clear understanding of what they are considering.
Youth leaders to use with teenagers. It has a Christian ethos but the young people do not have to be Christian to benefit from the course. Enquiring, Beginning, Growing, Small group, Youth.
This is a well-written and much-needed resource for youth leaders. The six workshops are simple to lead, whilst offering opportunities for depth and pastoral care of the participants. Each session also has nourishment for the youth leader and encourages time of self-reflection, so that the leader is leading from a thought-through place.
Using a range of statistics and quotes from research, the author clearly outlines the need for the different workshops and why each one is particularly relevant to young people. For example, exploring self-harm is important because the majority of people who are reported to self-harm are aged between 11 and 25.
Clearly laid out and easy to follow, with a concise list of resources needed at the start of each workshop. Each topic has several pages at the start to educate the leader on the subject and to enable them to think it through for themselves, whether they may have been affected by it, and to increase their own emotional health. There is also wise advice given with regard to working under safeguarding policies all the time.
It is designed for the busy youth leader. Probably best for a leader to have a good rapport with the young people and used to encouraging discussion and honesty amongst the group.
For each session, as well as familiarising yourself with the workshop content, it is important to read the introductory information (usually about 4-5 pages) and consider how the topic may impact you.
Not linked to the programme, but there are plenty of links to recommended reading on each topic.
The whole programme works around discussion and group activities.
Each session has a different learning style, most suited to the topic in question. For example, session 2 (Coping with Emotions) is based around four interactive stations; session 3 (Self-esteem) is largely based around a group activity; whilst session 5 (Depression) is largely based around discussion.
It is important to be sensitive to the needs of your young people, especially with these topics. The author gives advice on what to look out for and how to make the most of the material.
The course is based around a Christian understanding, recognising that God is aware of all our needs including our emotional health. Some sessions use specific Bible verses and passages to help explore the topic, whilst others don’t but still maintain the importance of recognising God in it and of praying together.
Simply and practically, encouraging discussion and reflection.
It’s applied to the topic in question rather than to general everyday life.
By helping people to be more emotionally healthy, it will inevitably lead to more resilient disciples.
This will be a side effect of the course, as people learn to include God in their difficulties and experiences.
Not a strong focus, but it does help participants to see that God wants to be involved in all areas of their lives.
These topics are hot subjects for young people and for the Church. The material is relevant and helps them to consider both how it affects themselves and how they can support those around them.
Emotional health is a big issue amongst young people. These sessions provide participants with a good understanding of issues such as depression and anxiety, and offer ways to help friends who may be struggling.
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