During the last academic year, in collaboration with the educational and clinical staff of a tier 4 mental health unit, we ran a bespoke relationships and sex education programme to meet the needs of a group of young people with mental health disorders.
We covered a range of topics including self-esteem, emotional literacy, friendship, romantic/sexual relationships, contraceptives, body image and distortions of the media, love languages (different expressions of love), and online photo sharing.
Sam is one of the young people who benefitted from the programme. Living with anxiety and depression, Sam often struggles to make connections with people. He has some autistic traits and finds personal interactions, particularly reading body language and facial expressions, difficult. Consequentially Sam struggles with isolation and finds it difficult to make friends and build relationships.
During our sessions, Sam was given specific examples where facial expressions and body language were used to convey emotion. He also explored the use of facial expressions and corresponding emojis. These activities helped Sam to increase his emotional literacy and his empathy towards others. Sam was also given examples of discussion starter questions which were modelled by the project leader.
Learning these valuable social skills has helped Sam build better connections with his peers and with adults. These connections will help support Sam’s recovery while he is living in the unit and strengthen his ability to form healthy, long term relationships in the future.