I remember back at school, the thoughts continuously just appear in my head now and then. However, what I remember most was that there was little understanding or support around for mental health. This alone can be tough, imagine not being understood, let alone not getting the vital support and help that you need. This made school extremely challenging for me, particularly to the point where I left without any formal qualifications, and isolated myself away from relationships. I think this is behind what I do now, with supporting other people with mental health. I believe that everybody with mental health should have some sort of support, whether it is counselling, support groups, or even just being understood (which makes all the difference!).
Somebody once said to me, "what is the one thing you would change about mental health if you could?" I recall thinking many things, but one immediately stood out for me, getting mental health understood. To understand mental health, if you do not have it or know of anybody who has had the condition either, is to be taught it. Schools should make mental health a core focus in their education. Mental health affects 1 in 4 of us each year according to the charity, Mind: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/ which shows an urgency to take action sooner rather than later. It still amazes me how much education ignores mental health. Some schools really are trying to improve the awareness of mental health through allowing charities to visit and explain further about mental health, but in some it does seem like a subject which is ignored. This should definitely change.
When thinking back to my own time in secondary school, my depression and anxiety were not really understood, least of all from teachers. But, if they did understand, I would have probably received wider support which enabled me to feel comfortable in school, with teachers who made the difference, rather than making me feel worse. My self-esteem and confidence in myself were low, and I had no motivation throughout school. So I have been asking myself over many years, how I can make a change to contributing towards mental health awareness, and this is how my website was created back in 2012. Since then, I have written my book "Teenage Depression VS Me", and now have a petition, which is aimed at urging the government to make mental health a core part of education. Having mental health on the curriculum, will help the 1 in 4 people with the conditions every-year be understood, especially if they are in education. Along with helping to support those who have no idea about mental health, its symptoms, or how it can completely change a person's life.
Mental health being taught in education will benefit adults too and not just teenagers. As adults will be able to understand and have awareness of whether they may have a mental health condition, or if somebody they know may have one too. This will enable them to understand their own mental health condition, or be able to offer assistance to supporting somebody else who may have one. This will make a big difference, just through one change that really can make a difference and save lives.
With the petition, I aim to attract 500 signatures from people who believe that mental health should be taught on the curriculum as a core subject, mental health could be adapted into a PSHE lesson or even a Science lesson where you learn pretty much everything about life, except about mental health. Now I am not sure if it is training or not understanding mental health that is an issue in schools, but I do know that this must be fixed, otherwise people will leave school and not understand mental health. Not understanding mental health from a school age will see teenagers go into employment or further education without knowledge of an important illness that can affect anyone of us. And, this will not help fix the awareness gap that is still large around mental health currently. My petition can be seen here: http://change.org/p/the-government-nicky-morgan-mp-david-cameron-mp-make-mental-health-a-core-part-of-education and each one of your signatures count, so I appreciate each and every one. Please do make sure you share the petition too, this will really make the difference. Thank you for your support and for reading.