How My School Helped, and Hindered My Mental Health
Elsa talks about how her school helped her manage her mental health and what changes she'd like to see in schools.
School has always had its difficulties for me, having been bullied since primary school. This was the main thing that caused my mental health to deteriorate. I’ve been left feeling so knocked down that I have dreaded going into school and hated talking to anyone about how I was feeling or what was going on.
Then there’s the added pressures of exams. Some of the most difficult years for me were year 9 and 10. Whilst I was lucky to get the help I needed before my GCSEs, I remember year 10 mocks being one of the most stressful times for me, and a time where I really gave up because everything got far too much.
I have to say that members of staff at school really helped me get through difficult days. They gave me the space to take time out or just have a chat, or let me go and play the piano in a practice room to calm down and re-centre. It was the small things like this that helped me feel more in control and made school less daunting for me on some of my darkest days.
However, unfortunately, there were some things that had a negative impact on me and made me hate coming to school and telling anyone about how I felt.
We have an area where students who have misbehaved go and are put in isolation, however it is also where the safeguarding team are based. Quite often if I expressed how I felt, I was told I was at risk to be left on my own so I would be made to stay in this area, in silence for the day. I felt alone, it made it sadder and I felt like I’d done something wrong so my hatred towards myself only grew. Ultimately it put me off wanting to ask for help or show how I felt to anyone because I feared being left alone and ‘being in trouble’.
Every school has its system and I have found my own school’s very effective. But I’ve experienced the effect that limited resources can have on schools and students. Schools need to be equipped to know how to support students struggling with their mental health and every member of staff should be trained to be able to recognise worrying aspects of a student’s behaviour.
Small things like this would have made all the difference to me.