We are the Bainbridge Youth Services Youth Advisory Board. Our goal is to advocate for mental health, create ways to reduce stigma in our community and be a resource for our peers.
We meet weekly to discuss topics relevant to youth and our community and how we can support them. Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the importance of adult support and what we think might be helpful tips for adults when supporting youth.
Here are our suggestions:
1. Actively listen: Sometimes, it is hard for adults not to compare their youth experiences to ours. We get that giving advice can be helpful, but sometimes we just need someone to listen and let us work it out.
2. Acknowledge stereotypes and biases: We all have biases and stereotypes, and being aware of them is half the battle. Sometimes we can have our own biases around teenagers based on what they are doing, how they are dressed or who they are hanging out with. Sometimes these biases can affect how adults interact with teenagers, and judgment can occur quickly. Please take the time to get to know the teenager and ask questions to understand better who they are.
3. Adults support adults: Teenagers hear everything. We hear how adults talk to each other and what they think about each other. We hear about what is on the Bainbridge Islander’s Facebook page. How adults talk to and about each other can influence our communication. Please keep it kind and respectful.
4. Everyone has their own story: Situations happen in our community and judging them without knowing the whole story can be easy. It is important to remember that everyone deals with situations and traumas differently. As teenagers, we are still learning how to process situations and make mistakes. Everyone processes their feelings, situations and mistakes differently.
5. Trust: Trust goes both ways. If you want youth to trust adults, adults need to trust youth. Youth often want to share information but are fearful of punishment or judgment. Building trust with teenagers starts by listening and acknowledging the little things in our life so when a big issue comes up it is easier to share.
Thank you for listening to our thoughts and suggestions. We feel that if we all support each other in respectful and authentic ways, good things will happen.
The BYS youth board consists of: Sophie Hoff, Serena Hinshaw, Maxwell Richards, Max Bispham, Lily Taylor and Emma Sinclair.