There is a distinct lack of understanding about mental illness in society, rather shocking considering the statistics show that 1 in 4 suffer from mental illness.
Why mental health should be taught in schools
My Own Story;
I was 13 when I attempted to take my own life; after years of bullying and a dysfunctional family home I was left severely depressed, yet had no way of understanding my emotions or what was happening to me. I had never even heard of the word “mental illness”.
While I was being taught algebra and how to write a book review, behind closed doors and even in the schools toilets I would take the compass out of my pencil case and gauge it into my arms. I had no idea that what I was doing was self-harming; I had never come across that phase. I did not understand what I was doing or why, nobody had ever explained this to me.
I was trapped in a vicious cycle, scared and alone.
There was no support in the classroom; instead I became the “troubled teen”.
I got good grades, I tried desperately to fit in, yet the years of abuse and being mistreated by society led me to being misunderstood.
I was crying out for help. I began using drugs, alcohol and self-harm as an escape, nobody noticed and if they did they did not care.
I sat my GCSE English exam while intoxicated on Whisky, the bottle I had drunk the night before, with my father and his friend, I was 15 years old.
Had I have been taught about mental illness and self-harm my life could have been saved and I most probably would have avoided the lifetime of misery that followed.
The school system has not changed. My own daughter suffered depression last year. I spoke with the school’s nurse who quite frankly informed me “It’s just hormones”. I rather politely informed her that daughter was showing all the signs of depression and support was needed.
My worries were dismissed; I was given the feeling that because I was mentally ill, how on earth would I know?
It turns out I knew more than her as a few months later the mental health crisis team were called out when my daughter spoke of suicide to a trusted teacher at school.
Still the school had no idea how to deal with such a dilemma and phoned me at home to come and collect her from school.
Unlike myself at 13 years of age, my daughter is very well educated on mental health thanks to my own illness. Her friends are not and it angers me to hear and witness so many children falling through the system because they are being misunderstood.
There has never been any support offered to my own children. I am bipolar and among other things do self-harm and suffer from my illness, which means my children suffer too.
The health professionals are nowhere to be seen, are these not the correct people to teach my children about why their mum behaves the way she does? Would my children not benefit from learning and receiving support?
I believe if mental health was taught in the classroom not only would it help to break the stigma that surrounds mental health but it could save a life.
How many children need to be able to write a book review later in life compared to how many children will come across mental illness?
How many children of school age live with a mentally ill parent?
How many school children themselves suffer from mental illness?
When children and young people are misunderstood and not taught about their emotions and fears, they like I did turn to other means.
What are your views? Should mental health be taught in schools?