Ysgol Stanwell School

Archer Road, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, CF64 2XL

World Mental Health Day

Posted on: Wednesday 14th September 2016

Year 12 student and aspiring journalist Clodagh McKechnie has written a very interesting and informative article for young people of school age. The article aims to raise awareness of mental health and is an excellent read for students and parents alike. Full article below:

World Mental Health Day, the one day a year that people find it the most acceptable to talk about this pressing issue, was on Monday 10th October. So, why do people feel the need to hide their mental health disorders, as 1 in 10 children aged 5 to 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.

When you hear the words “mental health”, what do you think of? Schizophrenia? Manic depression? Paranoia? Many young people today don’t think about their mental well-being, and it’s an increasing problem that is sweeping the nation. Between exams and homework, extracurricular activities and friends, housework and part time jobs, it’s no surprise that one in ten young people will suffer from a mental health disorder.
The past school year was a stressful, nervous and chaotic time, and many of us were able to cope with the ever-growing pressures of work and friends. However, this is not the case for everyone reading this. More than half of adults with a mental disorder were diagnosed in childhood and less than half of them were appropriately treated.

I know what you might be thinking, how does this affect me? As more and more young people are being correctly diagnosed, the stigma behind mental health is beginning to fade, but we need to help abolish it for good. This is a cause we can all get behind, from year seven to year thirteen; we all need to show our best support. A few of you reading this may know someone who is struggling with their emotions because they haven’t yet been diagnosed or someone who is now able to live a happier, calmer, stress free life because of their diagnosis. A mental health disorder isn’t something that people want to talk about, but it’s definitely something you can’t forget about.

One mental health issue that has been given very bad media coverage recently is anorexia. When you open a magazine what do you see? “Perfect” posters? “Perfect” diets? “Perfect” celebrities? No, we see photoshopped posters and fad diets and corrupt celebrities. However, a lot of teenagers these days will open the magazines and see how flawless these celebrities are, blissfully unaware of the blood, sweat and tears that happen to make sure these celebrities are perfect. One particular line of work that endorses Photoshop is modeling. Even though Kendal Jenner doesn’t wake up with her “natural” look, many teens will criticise themselves because they don’t look as perfect, flawless and skinny as Kendal does after countless hours of Photoshop.

How many of you have compared yourself to someone else? A friend, a family member maybe even a celebrity? A lot of us won’t fixate on how we look compared to others, especially airbrushed celebrities. Nonetheless people who have a mental health disorder can’t help their fixation on how they look compared to these un-life-like images that thanks to social media are engulfing our everyday life. Thanks to the ever present companionship of social media many teens are surrounded with unreachable body standards that many models themselves want to tear away from the eyes of society. Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. That’s roughly at least one person every lesson. Dead.

I know what you may be thinking, why don’t people get help? It’s because of the stigma that no matter how hard we try to suppress, is still around. There is a lot of bad stigma surrounding mental health disorders, especially boys. 11% of those diagnosed for anorexia last year were male, so although there is an ongoing stigma many males in our society feel safe enough, brave enough and comfortable enough to seek help, and are noticing the rewards daily.

Another substantial issue with young people today is anxiety. As you mature, you acquire more commitments. School work and homework and socialising with friends and housework and part time jobs, teens never seem to stop moving. Around 195,000 young people today have been diagnosed with anxiety. The rate of anxiety has increased 70% in the past 25 years; I personally view this as a positive as it means that many young people are more and more willing to discuss any mental health issues that they have in their everyday lives.

I am not writing this to inform you about the various reasons for anorexia and anxiety, or to give you the statistics about these mental health issues. I am writing this to help you, to give you advice and most importantly, to make sure that you know that it’s ok to talk about your problems. I too know people who have suffered from some type of anxiety and I am keen to talk to you about the various stress relievers that have helped them. It’s imperative that you find an activity that will encourage you to take your mind off everything that can cause stress and that may consequently lead to a mental health disorder. One activity you could try is yoga. The class could have a positive, entertaining and relaxing impact on your mental well-being as you will be able to shut off from the outside world. One celebrity who actively practices yoga as a stress reliever is Miley Cyrus, who has spoken out about her mental health on numerous occasions.

To summarise, your mental well-being is as important, if not more important, as your physical well-being. It’s imperative that you are comfortable talking to friends, family or even a counselor about what you’re going through as keeping it all in will interfere with your mental state even more, and may even cause your condition to worsen. Finally, we need to barricade the stigma that many young people have that is attached to mental health. Would you feel comfortable sharing your mental health journey with someone like you?

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