June 30, 2022
Coaching supports young people to develop wellbeing and resilience, and protect their mental health, helping them cope with whatever life brings.
Mental health is a big issue for young people and the pandemic has only made this worse. In July 2020 one in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem, a massive increase from one in nine in 2017. In 2019 suicide was the leading cause of death for young people between the age of five and 34 (1). Coaching is an early intervention which can help young people manage existing mental health problems, such as anxiety, and can also prevent mental health problems from occurring now and later in life.
Coaching is a personalised, usually one-to-one, intervention in which a trained coach works closely with a young person to support them to set their own aims and objectives for their programme of coaching. The goals can be performance led, such as improving academic achievement, or personal goals to feel happier, more confident, or less stressed. The coach’s role is to support and empower the young person by helping them develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and responsibility to enable them to achieve their goals.
Success looks different for different people. This is as true for young people as it is for adults. For young people who are struggling with depression or anxiety, success may be them getting up and going to school every day, or it may be volunteering to answer a question in class or speaking to people face to face rather than via social media. For others it might be gaining the confidence to play in a sports team or go on stage. Our view of success is personal, and coaching helps young people realise they can define their own success rather than relying on the viewpoint of others.
Academic achievement and school itself can be protective factors that prevent against the onset of mental health problems for young people. For some young people, academic success will mean achieving the top grades and for others it will mean something different, such as achieving a certain number of passes. Coaching is a great opportunity for a young person to work with a trusted adult who is non-judgmental and has hope and belief in the young person and their ability to improve their grades and work towards the goals they’ve set themselves.
There may be barriers which are preventing the young person from achieving academic success. The coach will listen, ask questions, and help the young person identify intrinsically motivating actions and goals. Through the coaching relationship the young person will build up a range of strategies that they can use and carry on with after the coaching session is done, such as ways to improve their focus and reduce distraction. The coach will help the young person reflect on what they’re learning to build their confidence, self-awareness, and self-belief.
Through the coaching process you can help young people develop personal resources, develop interpersonal skills, and manage emotions – the young person increases their awareness of how they think, feel, and behave. This helps develop the young person’s ability to manage and deal with situations they find challenging. The process of coaching enables them to develop a range of essential resources for resilience and wellbeing.
Our positive psychology coaching (PPC) approach enables young people to develop control over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, which results in increased confidence, self-worth, resilience, and improvements to mental wellbeing. This cultivates self-regulation an essential component of resilience. As a result of coaching, young people report feeling, happier, calmer, and less stressed.
Coaching helps young people to identify their own strengths and feel confident and more hopeful. In turn they feel more in control of their own environment and can be active participants in life rather than passive recipients with others controlling what is happening to them. The young person can believe that they have the power to change situations – coaching helps young people identify things in life which are meaningful to them and increase feelings of wellbeing.
The relationship between the coach and the young person is a powerful one, for example, when a young person’s coach is proud of them, this boosts feelings of pride in the young person, developing their positive emotions and boosting self-esteem.
During adolescence, wellbeing takes a natural dip; it’s quite normal for young people, especially teenagers, to be struggling with their wellbeing. Natural hormone fluctuations can make it challenging for adolescents to understand and control their own emotions. Coaching provides a short-term practical intervention which can help promote their wellbeing, and support them to develop coping strategies to manage their emotions and help prevent the onset of mental health problems.
Working with a coach helps young people to identify what’s important to them, especially during a time in their lives when they’re figuring out who they are as a person, what matters to them – a time when they perhaps want to be an individual and stand out, but they also want to feel like they belong and are valued by others.
Coaching helps develop all these factors in young people, increasing their wellbeing, resilience and protecting their mental health. The ultimate aim of coaching a young person is to help them develop their own range of resources and personal strategies that they can apply in different situations to help them achieve personal success.
The skills of the coach and the coaching relationship can be integrated into many roles in supporting young people, other than one-to-one coaching. These include but are not limited to:
We hope this has inspired you to consider coaching as a helpful way of providing early intervention to prevent mental health problems in the young people that you work with and support.
Worth-it are experts in coaching young people. Find out more about our evidence-based (2) approach to developing resilience in young people through coaching by coming along to our FREE coaching webinars.
You may also be interested in learning how to become a coach and use positive psychology coaching in your work.
June 30, 2022
This article explored just three ways positive psychology coaching can help young people develop mental wellbeingRead Now