Mental health in schools.

Recently a young girl who attended my old high school committed suicide. Although I didn’t know this girl it is a very sad time for the whole community. The events after this tragic occasion have been very heartwarming and moving. The local community got together on the promenade in Morecambe and let off balloons in her memory a long with setting off fireworks in a celebration for her life which was taken far too soon. Her friends painted pebbles for her in her memory. May her memory forever live on in each and every one of them. May this also be a turning point in these young people’s lives to help them recognise words really can affect a person.

As I mentioned earlier, I did not know this girl; however I do know what it’s like to suffer with mental health at a young age and feel like you have no one to speak to. Obviously I don’t know the circumstances or what occurred in the run up to her making this decision. But what I do know is that if she felt that she could confide in a teacher, a friend, even a stranger. She could still be here today. This seems obvious to anyone as it’s all your school tells you to do anyway if you ever feel down about anything. But is it really that simple?

My parents split up when I was in year 6. Before that I was from a happy home from my point of view. My dad drank a lot however and this was ultimately the reason my parents broke up. My dad isn’t a bad person, he’s ran his own business for as long as I’ve been alive and through it’s most successful years my parents joint income must have been around £70,000. So I was a very lucky kid in terms of getting new toys, football boots, games etc. As soon as they broke up I had to grow up very quickly. I went from having everything to having nothing. My mum was going in and out of depression and I was seeing this every single day as a child. I didn’t think it affected me but looking back now this nearly broke me.

Soon after I started year 7 my uncles girlfriend made my uncle very ill and then a few weeks later she was with my dad… just imagine how this made the family feel. Again. My mum, the strongest person I have ever met was on anti depressants. How do you think this would affect an 11/12 year old? I wasn’t a stupid kid, nor was I the smartest kid. I tried my hardest but sometimes needed that extra push. I started off fine in year 7. In year 8 I started to slip slightly but still maintained a good standard of work with things at home starting to slowly improve.

By year 9 things at home started to go downhill again and so did my grades. I watched my dog get run over in front of my eyes that summer, my dad was away and didn’t tell me. We struggled to afford the vets bill to get her put down. I blamed myself. The same year my mum and her new partner broke up although it was bound to happen as he was a prick anyway. But my mum wasn’t right after that. I was the man of the house. What could I do? Nothing. It made me feel useless. This is the first time I questioned taking my own life. I was in and out of relationships at this point, most were distractions although there was a few I genuinely did like and the break ups just added to the hurt. But that pain was nothing compared to how I started to feel in the later years of school.

Teachers would push and push us to work hard, to perfect everything. Certain teachers would favour the more “popular” kids and make you feel useless. Don’t get me wrong, some teachers were great. Mr McAloone, Mr Cooper, Miss Leck especially. Without these two teachers I genuinely don’t think I’d have got one half decent grade. I’m not using any of this as an excuse for my poor grades. I know my behaviour in school wasn’t great at all. Reflecting on everything now there’s so much the school could have done to help. The signs were there from and early stage but most teachers were too focussed on results rather than their students. Mr Watson used to tell people how he would get a bonus if they performed better.

In year 10 I decided I would join the army after school. I trained everyday to improve my fitness, this was set mentally challenging but it felt the right thing to do. Especially with my grades slipping I felt like I had no other choice as every assembly we had told us we would get nowhere without GCSE’s. the army gave me another option. A last resort. After a footballing injury to my knee two weeks before my army fitness test I had to give up this dream. The day after I gave up I was given isolation for kicking back at a teacher who regularly picked on me and a friend but gave others in the class more chances. Again, I’m not using this as an excuse for my behaviour. I just feel all students should be treated the same way.

I left school with poor grades in my opinion.

Btec merits in science.

C in English (after a resit)

D in History

D in Geography

E in business (slipped from a B in year 10)

F in RM

G in PR (pretty much refused to do the exam so that’s fair)

Now I’m 20 years old, earning £30,000 a year. Driving a brand new car and saving for my first home and my second car. Recently I have hit another very low point in life and I don’t know how to vent my frustration other than putting down all of my experiences in writing. I’m just wanting schools to realise, teachers should look for signs in students. Help them more. Don’t push for results 24/7. Students are children. They gave emotions, they have things going on at home. Please try and help everyone as best as possible before it’s too late.

Thank you for reading.

Reading back some of the timings could be slightly off, such as where I speak about year 9. That could be year 8/9.