Who would have thought at the end of July 2021, that we would be just shy of 500 days of lock-down, still faced with uncertainty, a ravaging third wave and a country fresh out of an attempted insurrection involving riots, looting and disturbing violence?
Matthew and I emerged from that week unscathed but not untouched. Shaken and stirred by the sudden eruption of pillaging and destruction, we regrouped with our heads down attempting to get back to work without beating hearts and furrowed brows.
A loud and insistent flag
We were greeted by a loud and insistent flag waving at us. It wasn’t about the near capture of our country. It wasn’t about the destruction and the devastation, it wasn’t about the cost to the economy, it wasn’t about the rates of infection and debates about vaccine rollouts. It was about our young people.
Our youth are in crisis. Mentally, emotionally, psychologically. Chantal and I are very, very concerned about the mental and emotional wellbeing of our young people.
Our one on one work with teenagers and young adults has surfaced alarming fears around Covid-19 mixed with frustration regarding ongoing and changing lock-down rules. Not being able to mix normally with their peers, reduction in or complete stoppage of any extra mural activities as well as confusion and concern about their future has caused extreme anxiety, despair and hopelessness. The word cloud (on the right) is made up of the words from the young people we have worked with. The crisis is growing and our young people are at risk. It is very worrying. Something has to be done.
We have something that works
We have something that we know works. In 2017, in response to the endemic trauma we witnessed in the under-resourced school space we developed a process that directly attends to and clears difficult, painful and negative emotions. These are emotions that, if ignored or not dealt with, can lead to more serious emotional and physical illness (There’s copious science to prove this). These are the emotions that are besetting our youth in an unprecedented fashion, and they do not have the skills or guidance to deal with them.
The process we developed is called Shape of Emotion. It’s evidence-based, grounded in scientific theory and practice, it’s simple enough for children from the age of nine or ten to follow and is Proudly South African. It can also be used in large groups.
We have, in the past, contacted many, many schools about our offering. We have been largely ignored. This does not surprise us. Schools can’t attend to every programme, offering and intervention thrown at them. They are the custodians of the young people in their care and as such have to be very careful about what they introduce. In addition, beliefs, religious and otherwise, have to be accommodated.
Here’s something we can do
But something has to be done. Yes, we have reconnected with schools, slowly making our way through the lists. Hopeful but not expecting much. Now, we would like to remind you, who is part of our 5th Place community, of what we do. You may know of someone that could use this support.
Our aim has always been to offer our work as far and wide as we can. To this end we became teachers on an online platform called Insight Timer and in addition to our numerous recordings and talks, offer live events called Emotional Fitness Classes. We do seven live sessions a week and anyone can join, free of charge, as long as they have downloaded the app and have data. We have an average of 130 attendees per class from around the world and to date we have impacted over 10,000 people.
Help us help our youth
Something has to be done. Help us help our youth. Whether you are a young person, a parent, teacher or just someone who knows someone who needs support, help us help our youth. In addition to our online classes on Insight Timer we also do coaching and therapy, one-on-one and in groups, and continue to deliver talks to educate and raise awareness about how emotions are made and the importance of regulating them.
Connect with us and let’s have a conversation about how we as a community can collaborate, work together, influence, intervene, and put together interventions that will do something to help our young people.
Connect with us on Insight Timer
About the author
5th Place offers specialised psychological services in the form of coaching and therapy for immediate relief from stress, anxiety, & other mental health challenges. It works fast, deep and quick. For individuals and groups, children, teens and adults.