Anxiety played a big part in my life while in school.
I faced extreme bullying, which started in year 7 and from that moment on my anxiety spiked. I felt isolated and feared being judged if I reached out for help. Is this a normal emotion to have for a 11 year old?
Services were not mentioned or promoted by the teaching staff, so I didn’t know who to turn to. Over time, the anxiety got worse, so bad I could not attend some lessons and assemblies, which led to me failing multiple exams during my GCSEs and ultimately made me feel like life was not worth living anymore.
A typical school day would see me have multiple panic attacks, including sweating, trembling and struggling with concentration.
Finally, I was seen by a counsellor at secondary school; after many weeks of waiting, I received advice on my symptoms and took away great self-help tips, which I use during panic attack episodes, still to this day.
I launched Mind of the Student with my friend to shed light on the lack of mental health provision and education in schools, aiming to change this by delivering workshops to secondary school students on spotting the signs of depression and anxiety, self-help tips on ways to alleviate symptoms and sign-posting to mental health services within the school and externally such as to CAMHS and other local organisations.
I believe early intervention can prevent mental health deterioration. The fact that 68% of young people reported being absent from school due to their mental health last year demonstrates that schools are failing their students.