Supporting Girls on Their Journey Through Life: Think Resilient
Girlguiding Scotland is the leading charity for girls and young women in Scotland, with 45,000 young members. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. Youth organisations like Girlguiding have a vital role to play in promoting resilience and wellbeing. Research from Edinburgh University showed that children who participate in Guiding or Scouting are likely to have better mental health in later life. Our young members regularly tell us that having a girl-only space, away from the pressures like school and social media, is one of the things they value most about Girlguiding.
We know that as girls get older their happiness declines. Our Girls in Scotland 2018 research revealed just one in five girls aged 18-25 described themselves as ‘very happy’ compared to two in five girls age 7-11. Nearly 80% of girls aged 11-21 know another girl who has experienced depression. With the pressure to do well at school, worries about being bullied and the expectation to look a certain way, girls and young women have a host of issues to navigate. Everyday sexism is rife too, with 77% of girls age 12-25 saying they felt they were treated differently because of their gender, with 28% saying this happened often or always.
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has also brought new worries and is causing many girls and young women to experience negative effects on their mental health. Girlguiding’s COVID–19 survey found nearly a third of girls and young women in Scotland feel lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health – amidst high levels of worry, stress and loneliness.
Girls and young women are asking for help. Nearly 1 in 2 girls (47%) age 12 to 25 said they would like to learn about mental health and & resilience in school but currently don’t.
To support girls on their journey through life, Girlguiding has created ‘Think Resilient’ in partnership with Young Minds. This programme is led by our Peer Educators and seeks to improve girls’ wellbeing through resilience-building techniques. This includes learning how to manage difficult situations, recognising when to reach out for help and how to develop effective coping strategies. The programme is open to girls aged 7-25 with activities suited to all ages. Our team of peer educators based in Scotland has now tailored Think Resilient to be delivered online, so girls in guiding who are meeting virtually can continue to take part.
Think Resilient aims to support girls and young women to understand different techniques they can use to build their resilience. It’s all about empowering girls to take control, develop a plan to build their resilience and think about the different things they can do to look after themselves when times get tough.
We know talking about how we feel can be a sensitive topic, so the first activity seeks to create a safe space where girls can feel comfortable talking about mental health. Girls are involved from the very start in creating rules and guidelines to help run the session in a fun, safe and respectful way. These can then be referred back to during later activities to help manage any discussions.
The session then goes on to different activities to explore what resilience is and why we need it. This includes how to recognise when things might feel like too much, how to comfort ourselves and where to go for help when we need it. Girls are also encouraged to recognise what they’re good at and learn to see problems as learning opportunities.
Next, the session looks at how to build resilience and covers different techniques. Girls and young women can discover self-calming practices likes mindfulness and meditation, how to understand their emotions and what their limits are. Problem solving is also key to help girls think through the different positive things they could do when they’re feeling stressed.
At the end of the session girls have the space to identify other things that they can do to improve their resilience and wellbeing, including getting enough sleep, doing things they enjoy and taking part in exercise. They’re also encouraged to keep practising the techniques they find most helpful.
It’s so important that mental health isn’t treated as an isolated issue. We know that how girls and young women think and feel is connected to a wide range of pressures. From anxiety around body image, pressure to conform with gender stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards, online bullying and harassment, sexual harassment in schools and on the street, less freedom to go outside by themselves, and sexism in the media and in daily life – all of these pressures are having an impact on how girls’ and young women feel.
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has heightened these issues, as well as bringing about new concerns. While many are worried about their own health, many more – 85% of girls aged 11 – 14 – say they are worried about other people getting sick. The closure of schools also meant that nearly half of girls aged 11 – 18 (46%) found it hard to focus on schoolwork/education during this time. Further findings from the Lockdown Lowdown survey by the Scottish Youth Parliament, YouthLink Scotland and Young Scot found young people in Girlguiding Scotland are most worried about the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on their futures.
That’s why we need a holistic approach to improving well-being and resilience; one that takes into account the multifaceted issues girls and young women are up against and that recognises how different systems of discrimination overlap with each other. We’re living in unprecedented times. Now more than ever, it’s vital that girls and all young people have access to quality support and know what things they can do to help them cope.
Support Girlguiding Scotland
We want to ensure that even more girls and young women across Scotland can benefit from all that guiding has to offer and take part in peer-led programmes like Think Resilient.
A £40 gift supports a girl to pay her annual membership of Girlguiding Scotland, keeping her in guiding throughout 2021.
You can donate today by visiting Girlguiding Scotland’s JustGiving page or visit https://www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved/support-us/donate/ to give what you can.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer or know a girl who would like to join guiding, please visit www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved/ to find out how to get involved.
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