When I was about 15 I remember saying to my mum ‘I feel depressed’. She replied: ‘what do you have to be depressed about? You have bills to pay? kids to feed? Mortgage for the roof over your head?’ Of course my answer was no to all three questions but it shut down any discussion of my mental health. Somehow I managed to muddle through my teens with no help from mum. It’s only now I’ve realised she was suffering herself with the financial burden of bringing up six children in the eighties with rising interest rates.
Anyway back to my teenage depression – how did I handle it? I was into sport especially hockey, I went to practice after school and I played matches after school and on a Saturday. I went to church on a Sunday and I took an active part in Youth events. I loved reading and after finding Jane Eyre on a friend’s bookshelf my life was transformed. Even though our house was overcrowded when we were growing up we always found ways of entertaining ourselves on very little money.
Recently, I noticed a student in my class seemed to be going through that teen depression I felt at 15 but hers was also very different. There was no joy in her life, no amount of jokes shared in class could raise a smile. I asked her ‘are you ready to talk about what’s going on?’ She looked surprised and for the first time she made eye contact. ‘No’, she replied in a I wish I could style. ‘Is it family? She shook her head. ‘You?’ She nodded. ‘Is it every day? For how long? ‘Since year 8.’
Too long without help. She left the lesson with the decision to seek help. Our country is in the middle of a mental health crisis. I’m hearing stories of children in Year 3 and Year 4 self-harming, experimenting? Messing about? Only link social media! After weeks of media coverage on shocking images of self harming on Instagram, has it led children to seek out these images who otherwise would not have considered it?