Schools, you either love them or hate them, a little bit like Marmite I guess. Some say school years are the best years of your life, some even say school reminds them of their youth. But what do you think of when you reminisce about your youth? Do you see school as a good thing or do you feel let down by your school?
For me, I was let down by my secondary school, not only because they didn't support or understand me, but because I was left isolated without hardly any support. It has become a big issue in today's society and the BBC states: Teenage years and early adulthood are a critical time for mental health - 75% of disorders develop before the age of 24. But there is no way to accurately say who will or will not develop depression."
Feeling let down and unsupported, I didn't attend my final years of secondary school and as a result, lost out on achieving my GCSES. Fortunately though, there was hope for me when I started at a local college and worked my way up in my Business Studies, becoming student of the year and achieving distinction grades. It really does go to show with the right understanding and support, Mental Health sufferers can feel motivated and want to feel positive. It often annoyed me to hear others telling me I'd fail. The school told me this, "you'll be nothing but a failure." It cut me deep and knocked my confidence for many years, I can tell you, but the feeling of proving them wrong is one of the best feelings ever. I know many people believe that proving someone wrong is a psychology and I agree, it does make you feel rather virtuous.
But are school management teams right to tell a Mental Health sufferer they will fail? Should they not be encouraging them and offering support and guidance instead? It really shocks me that most schools do not do this. It should be part of their job role, to make sure all students are 'happy' and well-looked after. Schools that claim to understand Mental Health should get up and campaign against the schools that fail those with Mental Health.
Teachers were part of the failure to help support me on my journey through secondary school with Mental Health, some did offer me a chat every now and again, but not all of them understood the condition. They thought I was a problem children and never offered anything other than problems. Other than teachers and the school's management team, most of the students didn't understand either. To properly understand Mental Health, you have to experience the condition, that's my opinion anyway. I always have said and still believe that ALL SCHOOLS should be made to include Mental Health on their curriculum, schools teach about obesity and disability after all, yet many fail to include Mental Health and it's becoming a much bigger part of our community now, than ever before and it's becoming a bigger problem as many people including professionals are failing to understand correctly. This isn't the only problem, There's another key problem. According to the BBC,
"Many healthcare professionals, teachers, police, volunteers and others who come into contact with them, do not know what a mental health condition looks like or how to approach the issue."
Not understanding Mental Health, especially in school where teenagers spend a majority of their time is wrong and not fair! Bullying increases because Mental Health isn't taught and therefore not understood. Why shouldn't differences be taught? I often wasn't understood and punished for my outbursts or having an opinion, because I didn't care what I was saying, sometimes it could be really negative. School just wasn't fair for me, nor did I like it. If I had been supported better and understood, then maybe there would have been a better chance for me to progress and want to be in school? I feel devastated with the school and their lack of understanding.
Teaching Mental Health and providing the understanding it so badly needs is a must for all schools, not just those schools who are specialists at understanding disabilities and health conditions, but every single school. The need for this to happen is bigger now, than ever before and it should have been acknowledge by all schools a long time ago...I am surprised it hasn't been!
Do you have a story or experiences of not being understood at school? Did your disability or Mental Health impact negative treatment from teachers? If so, get in touch and please share your story. Together we can end Mental Health Stigma! And do you agree schools need to act on Mental Health?