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WHAT IS SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY PRESSURE?

Social and community pressure is when young people in the community feel pressure from the community’s beliefs, values and expectations about young people.
It is an image that adult members of the community have – how they want young people to be.

Examples of social and community pressures:
1) Sports teams: pressure to attend training sessions (even when injured), to not drink or smoke, to always play well to keep your place on the team.
2) Pressure to be as good as a brother or sister e.g. expectation to go to college just like your older sister.
Can you think of any other examples? 

SO WHY IS SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY PRESSURE IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND THEIR MENTAL HEALTH?

The Negative Side
The pressures from the community can affect how you feel about yourself.
• Not living up to expectations can leave you feeling inadequate.

• It's hard to feel welcome in the community if you don't feel a part of it. It might be hard to feel like you're doing the right thing or that you're being watched and judged on what you do.

• Some people feel like there is pressure on them to perform – to live up to certain expectations.

• It's unfortunate, but some adults live their dreams through their children – there is pressure from parents and other members of the community to do what they did or even better.

• You might end up feeling very isolated in your community – especially if it is small and far away from the rest of the world. It's hard feeling unwanted or feeling like you are not fitting in. Sometimes this can lead to people feeling depressed and hopeless.

The Positive Side
• There are some positives from this type of pressure. It can motivate you to achieve your goals if people in your community are supporting the same goals that you're trying to achieve.

• It can also help to motivate you to succeed in your goals. Imagine you love being in a band, surfing, painting, whatever… people might think that this will get you nowhere. Imagine excelling (doing well) at whatever you love doing despite the pressures.

• Sometimes these pressures can give you another view of life besides your own or that of friends or parents. You might make different decisions with this information.

 

SO HOW DO YOU COPE WITH ALL THIS PRESSURE?

• Feeling positive and confident about yourself is a great start.
• It might help to take a break and get away from it all for a while.
• Why don't you talk to friends who may be able to help you look at things differently?
• Go and do something that you enjoy doing – like listening to music, writing, playing sport, etc.
• Enjoy and be proud of what you're good at, get involved in something that you want to achieve in.
• Stick with someone who gives you positives and makes you feel good about yourself or find some mates who will.
• If there is someone who you look up to, or who you admire or trust – talk to them about how you're feeling.
• If you've got some energy – form a group of young people and face the people that stereotype you, challenge their stereotypes.

BEING ASSERTIVE

WHAT IS ASSERTIVENESS?
Being assertive is about honestly communicating your thoughts, feelings and needs to others in an appropriate and clear way. Communicating assertively can give your mental health a boost.

Passive    Assertive    Aggressive 
     

ARE YOU PASSIVE?
What is passiveness?
Being passive is the opposite of being aggressive. When communicating passively a person often:
• Is unwilling to express their thoughts and feelings – suffers in silence.
• Put others’ needs and thoughts before their own
• Won’t participate in group activities
• Has trouble saying "NO" to people asking them to do something.
People communicating passively often drop hints instead of speaking straight. This is only effective if the other person picks up on the hint.

ARE YOU AGGRESSIVE?
Can you name some aggressive behaviours?
There are some main behaviours that characterise aggressiveness, like:
• Physical violence
• Put-downs
• Not listening to differing points of view
Being aggressive is a way of forcing people to do what you want them to do without consideration for their thoughts and feelings. Intentionally standing over someone when talking to them is aggressive.

ARE YOU PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE?
There are also people who are passive-aggressive who are not honest with themselves or others and they tend to:
• Act false by being "nice" on the outside but really they are angry.
• Bottle up anger and plan revenge or to get even.
• Try to sabotage something to get what they want.

HOW CAN I COMMUNICATE BETTER?
Communication involves verbal messages; what we say and how we say it. Communication also involves the body language that we use, such as crossing our arms and using hand gestures as we speak.

It is important to match up our body language with our verbal messages for good communication. How we speak and use our body language determines whether we are communicating assertively, passively or aggressively.

BEING ASSERTIVE
Tact and timing
Tact is an important part of assertiveness. Using different tones and styles with different people is a big part of being assertive.
Timing is just as important as tact e.g. waiting for a good moment.
 
Say what you mean
Too many people don’t say what they want to say or when they do they don’t tell someone straight e.g. they drop hints and talk in round about ways.

Mean what you say
Meaning what you say is another thing that is extremely important in assertiveness. Try not to say “I don’t mind” when you actually mean “Yes” or “No”.

Listening
There is more to assertiveness than getting your way all the time and telling other people ‘this is how it’s going to be.’ Both sides need to be listened to and respected.

Do you think you might use any of these? If yes which ones?

TRY BEING ASSERTIVE
Next time you have an argument, conversation or discussion try communicating assertively. It can help you with relationships, making decisions, problem solving and dealing with conflicts.