Over past months and weeks, a higher number of younger clients (mid teens to mid twenties, both young men and young women) have come into my consulting room with emerging feelings of panic, mounting pressures, jumpiness, restlessness, even anger outbursts.
For most, these sensations are quite new to them. They would not previously have considered themselves as being susceptible to anxiousness, and/or lacking the ability to know how to cope and yet now they do. Their usual desire and passion for those things they associate with fun, drivers that are almost automatic in the way they choose to live their lives, no longer hold their interest.
Instead they notice continual tiredness, lack of energy, and difficulty in concentration and with final terms and semesters looming at schools, trade courses, and universities, many are struggling, not wanting to attend, losing confidence, fearing failure, and withdrawing rather than engaging with friends and families.
Of course we know that COVID–19 has altered the way we function across all demographics. We have also witnessed global issues that impact all generations including climate effects that indicate the poor health of our planet, warfare, financial debt, human suffering. It would be naïve to think that these negative influences would not place a toll, more than ever felt, by our younger generations.
As a mental health counselling professional in private practice, this to me, is immensely concerning.
We read every day where the mental health system is under enormous strain, where mental health plans create burgeoning waiting lists for psychiatrists and psychologists who are doing all they can to keep up with these demands.
Counsellors and psychotherapists with tertiary qualifications, accreditation levels, and years of experience in the mental health profession are proficient in their business. Yet, there is a gap of acknowledgement, for this expertise and experience.
For these professionals, there are no mental health plans in place despite continual liaison and lobbying from the peak Counselling Associations in Australia at a Federal level with Government, to bring about this change. By incorporating Counsellors into the range of accredited service providers (Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Social Workers) Australia’s waiting lists would be significantly reduced.
This is not a competition between providers. Rather, it is an “inclusion of qualified and professional people” adept at meeting this dire need within our community.
A young person last week commented to me that it was “good to vent” that at home he felt “guilty” for his outbursts, that he felt he was letting his family down, that he feared he might fail in his exams, that he felt “hopeless.”
These are not rare comments, but each are significant and serious. By being able to engage with these young people at an early stage before issues build in their minds and their lives, much can be done.
Professional counselling provides the means for effective listening, support, empathy, acknowledgment, problem solving; a safe environment for discussion; a meeting place in which to explore possibilities; guidance in identifying needs that provide skills and strategies pertinent to each person; assistance with new plans, new goal posts; a time for reflection and review along the way; regular assessment of the client’s safety and in their practices and behaviour with others.
All of these functions, form part of the professional care for these people that counsellors provide. Along with this is the professional efficacy to understand when there is a need for medical intervention and referral.
The general community needs access to these services and counsellors need the government to respond before the mental health within our country deteriorates and spirals any further.