I find myself here this morning about to talk to you about an ever-growing challenge in the world that it is close to my heart, mental health. It’s a sad fact that one in five young people suffer from a mental health issue, and that a large number of them are currently struggling alone with no support. In this social-media filled generation, suicide is the biggest killer of our age group. This highlights that there is a huge need for everyone to be much more understanding and aware of what may be going on in people’s heads and to end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.
I myself suffer from mental health issues but am lucky enough to have an incredible support system of friends, family and people at this school. However, I know that this is not the same for everyone, especially those just coming to terms with what they may be feeling. Although it may feel impossible to talk, there are people in this school and in this world who are experts at helping you. If my journey has taught me anything, it’s that those around you who care about you will stop at nothing to support you and that a problem shared really is a problem halved.
If you’re sat listening to this and feeling like it applies to you, please take the time today, tomorrow or this week to confide in a friend, a family member or someone at the health centre. All you have to do is visit a loo in this school and you’ll be able to see the list of the many people you can talk to. If you are sat here and this doesn’t apply to you, which I hope it doesn’t, also please take the time to chat to a friend if they seem like they’re struggling. If not, I implore you to walk around school with a new attitude. One where you appreciate that lots of people have silent battles going on in their head and one where you think of the impact you may have before you speak or act. Common illness like depression and anxiety can’t be seen in the same way that you can see a broken leg, so there may be people walking around in your life who are silently suffering.
I also challenge you to take a look at how much time you spend on your phones. I’m not going to bore you with the science, but there is countless evidence that links social media to psychological harm. Try a week with no phone or give up Instagram for Lent and see what a difference it makes. Let’s all start talking to each other more, and not just bury ourselves in our phones.