Help Young People Make Decisions: Parents & Professionals

Using the example statement “Children and young people’s mental well-being issues will increase” I will explain how to weigh up the pros and cons of actions and particular decisions versus inaction. It’s a simple and effective strategy that gets you to take consequences and ecology (the impact on the wider system) into consideration. The process that I’m going to share with you is helpful when it comes to decision-making.


In this example, draw a cross on a blank page and at the top, put ‘action’ versus ‘inaction’ and down the sides put ‘true’ versus ‘not true’. Depending on what decision you want to help your young person make, your columns and rows might need to be labelled differently, you need to assess them.

What is the challenge? What is holding us back from making this decision? I encountered this challenge seven years ago, I knew mental health problems were on the increase and wanted to do more to help.

Here’s how it works; look at the first quadrant, ‘not true’. If mental health challenges were not on the increase what would be the consequences of us taking action? You might end up spending money on services that a young person does not need, we might end up making them even better or they might get more confidence and resilience from the improvement of services. Not all the consequences would be negative there could be positive ones as well.

Now look at another quadrant, let’s say it’s ‘not true’, mental health issues in children and young people are not on the increase and we don’t take any action. Unfortunately, this means a mental health challenge in a young person follows them into adulthood and passes through to their children which affects the whole family and can be passed down through generations.

In the next quadrant, we take ‘action’ and it’s ‘true’. This means that it did cost us money.  There are going to be some societal improvements, and some changes because mental health issues don’t just affect your mental health they affect your education, employment status, income, housing and so many other things. If we take action, people would be happier and there would be maybe less impact on the family dynamics, maybe there would be a reduced number of separations and divorces.

In our final quadrant, we say it is ‘true’, mental health issues in young people are on the increase but we don’t do anything about it. What are the consequences? We are going to end up spending money on a clean-up operation if we don’t take action now, therefore we are increasing crime, family breakups, unemployment, drugs, and alcoholism dependency.

This is where the decision-making part comes in. Realistically we cannot predict the future, we don’t know whether it’s true or not true because we don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week. We can make probably some fairly accurate guesses and predictions but anything could happen. But we do get to choose whether we take action or not, I prefer to take action now!


By Gemma Bailey

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