Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Student Stigma || WMHD17

With today being World Mental Health Day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and spotting the symptoms early. As many of you may know, I have recently launched a project called Student Stigma which has been funded by O2's Go Think Big. The reason I set up this project is to highlight the importance of student mental health. 

I feel that there is a lot of stigma surrounding students and their mental health. When I say that I'm a student who suffers with depression and social anxiety, I get the odd comment stating that what I am experiencing is just the 'normal' stress and worries that a student faces. Comments like this is the reason why Student Stigma is so important. I know that I definitely have social anxiety and depression and I'm sure my doctor agrees considering I've been backwards and forwards to her for the past couple of years now.

When a lot of people say the word 'student' they immediately think of university students, however we forget that children in primary school, secondary school and college are also students. The reason why I wanted Student Stigma to be for people of all ages, is because my 'mental health story' began at the age of 7 years old when I had my first ever panic attack. If you would like to know more about my story, you can either watch my 'Mental Health Story' video, read my story on Time to Change or my interview with the Guardian

At the time of my first panic attack, I was unaware of how I was feeling and what was happening to me however *luckily* my dad had experienced panic attacks before, so he knew how to look after me. If my family did not have the knowledge of mental health and illnesses, we would not have been able to see the early signs of my anxiety. 

One thing that I think needs to change, is the lack of mental health education in schools which is why I hope Student Stigma can allow me to go to schools and campaign to raise awareness of mental health. Being able to see the early signs of a mental illness can be life saving and it definitely makes the process a whole lot easier. Growing up can be a traumatic, exciting and a whirlwind experience for many children and young adults, so it's no surprise that many suffer with a mental illness later on in life. 

This is why I thought this would be the perfect day for me to encourage you to share your story and raise awareness! 

If you would like to share your experiences of having a mental illness throughout education, whether that be past or present, please join in campaigning with Student Stigma. Share your story, share your advice and chat to others! This is a safe place for everyone and especially for students who may need more education about mental health. 

Lastly, do not be dismissive of students when they say that they're struggling. Unless you have been in their situation, you do not know how tough it can be!