Meet your mind, find your safe zone
Building inner strength and supporting young people’s mental well-being, one ‘safe zone’ at a time
When’s the last time you felt safe to reflect on how you’re really feeling? Do you have a refuge for these feelings in your mind, in your home or among your friends? For too many children and young people in Thailand, surrounded and silenced by mental health stigma, there’s no such safe space.
That’s why UNICEF is encouraging them to ‘meet your mind, find your safe zone’ with Every Day is Mind Day – because when they have safe zones to rest their minds and be vulnerable without fear of judgement, they can gain the inner strength to bounce back from life’s challenges and be their true selves outside of these spaces.
This way, children and young people are discovering safe zones for inner strength in the most familiar as well as unlikely of places – playing with a neighbour’s dog, taking the long, scenic route home from school or pouring your heart into something creative.
For Friend of UNICEF Peck Palitchoke as well as the band A Little Bit High, their safe zone is the latter. Below, watch A Little Bit High’s “Rest” to see the quiet power of safe zones.
Finding a place where we can put down all the weight from our shoulders could not be timelier, with youth mental health seriously suffering from the grief, uncertainty, isolation and stress over the past years of COVID-19 and well before that. An estimated 1 in 14 children aged 5-9 and 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10-19 in Thailand have mental health disorders, and a tragic 17.6 per cent of adolescents aged 13-17 had recently seriously considered suicide. With only 200 psychiatrists specializing in child and adolescent mental health in the country, many may not know where to turn to.
“Poor mental health is costing children years in developmental milestones – it means they will often struggle to pay attention in class, engage with their peers and cope with intense emotions, well into adulthood," explains Jagkrapan Janchatree, Adolescent Development Officer at UNICEF Thailand.
“That’s why UNICEF is supporting a whole-of-government and whole-of-society mental health response to reach Thailand's youth and the most vulnerable in their homes, schools and communities with the right quality of care at the right time. From the policy side, this means a common vision as well as investment and interventions across education, social welfare and justice sectors, not just in health. And from each of us, this means learning how to be a safe zone for our loved ones, so they can come to us without feeling judged or like they’re a burden.”
With access to these safe zones, whether places or people, the young generation can be remarkably resilient when dealing with difficult emotions. Just take it from young Pa, who found hers at home.
“I gave my bedroom a nickname, ‘a room for wiping tears away’ – I often go and cry in that room a lot. I feel that me and my bedroom have gone through a lot together.”
If you’re not sure where to start with a safe zone of your own, take our safe zone quiz. For Pa, self-reflection is the key.
“See what’s happening on your mind. Then, when you understand what you’re feeling and truly understand that situation, try looking for a safe space. A space where you can let go of the mental load. Be it with yourself or with your trusted friends or adults who you feel understand you. It works.”
Importantly, family can be safe zones too. In our weekly Facebook posts, Every Day is Mind Day is equipping parents and caregivers with simple tools for supporting their children’s mental well-being, such as choosing the right words for difficult conversations, knowing the warning signs for mental health challenges and practising active listening.
“The main point is to listen,” says Kuk, a mother who found common ground with her son. “Only through listening can we help children to share what’s on their mind. And a good listener does not judge. When children speak, we need to make sure that they feel safe – this is their safe zone.”
Once you find the right safe zone for you, share it with your loved ones with our Every Day is Mind Day stickers for social media. Remember that your safe zone is something you can come back to when you’re feeling vulnerable or just need a break. And if you feel that you may need professional help, know that a ‘life jacket' is always there for you.
“For me, seeking a mental health expert is like asking for a life jacket,” explains Pa. “Let’s imagine we’re swimming in the sea. If the weather is calm, we may not need a life jacket. But some day, our mind might be in turmoil, like a turbulent sea and we can’t continue swimming. We should ask for help. Ask for a life jacket.”
Whether you’re a young person or a parent of one, you can explore the following resources for support:
- Mental Health hotline | 1323
- Fee-based Mental Health Clinics at general hospitals
- Empathetic listening service | www.satiapp.co
- LINE chat | @Khuikun
- Self-assessment tool | www.วัดใจ.com
- LoveCare Station, for young people
- Online counselling (16:00 - 24:00) | www.lovecarestation.com
- LINE chat (12:00 - 20:00) | @LoveCareStation
- Childline Thailand Foundation, for children under 18 | www.childlinethailand.org
- 24-hour hotline | 1387
- LINE chat | @saidek1387
- Messenger chat | http://m.me/childlinethailand
- Teen Club app, for young people
- LINE chat (17:00 - 23:00) | @Teen_Club
- Screening and training tool, for teachers | learning.hero-app.in.th