Created in 2014, Carpe Diem Emmie is a Midlands based Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel blog. Ran by Emmie, a 28 year old woman based in rural Leicestershire.

In the day Emmie works in a primary school where she is passionate about inclusion and mental health. In the evening she escapes to the cultural world.

Wondering What To Read Next?

"It's no surprise that mental ill health is on the rise in children" - Experiencing Mental Health at School.

1 in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health. This includes depression, anxiety which are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. It's alarming that 70% of children and young people who experience a problem with their mental health have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age

I opened up about my anxiety disorder back in 2014 (read Having a Mental Health Disorder on the blog) and figured out pretty quickly I wasn't alone. For me in times when anxiety is pretty damn terrifying having somebody near who understands something of what you go through provides comfort and support. 

This week includes  World Mental Health Day and I wanted to use this week to invite people to chat about their experiences, whether that's as a mother, in the workplace or as a child. Already this week we have had a Mother Discuss Depression and a trainee primary school teacher discussed the Importance of Discussing Mental Health in the Classroom

Next up is Jo from My Anxious Life who discusses her experience of mental health at school.

Let’s talk about school. It should be an exciting time of growth and new experience, but for many its fraught with obstacles and worry. As adults, we can have a tendency to look back on our school days through rose tinted glasses and, jaded by our adult problems, forget all the challenges that children are facing. New friends, learning challenges, growing up. Strict routines, discipline, hormones. Now add social media pressures, learning targets, regular testing.   
It really is no surprise that mental ill health is on the rise in children. According to a survey released by NHS Digital, from a group of 5-19-year olds surveyed, around 1 in 12 (8.1%) reported an emotional disorder.
I hate to be cynical, but I would imagine that in reality this figure is higher, given that 1) a good percentage of us tend not to be particularly open about our emotions, and 2) surely, we can’t expect all children to recognise an emotional disorder?
Childhood is when my own struggles with mental ill health began, but only now in adulthood can I start to look back and understand my experiences.
I was in primary school, maybe about 7 years old, when I had my first panic attack right, in in the middle of my classroom (and they went on to be a semi-regular occurrence well into my teens). In high school, my natural academic ability led to feelings of isolation and difference which, when combined with school and parental pressure and my sensitive nature, led to high anxiety about grades, test scores and being ‘good enough’. I wasn’t bullied, other than the odd “boff” shouted in my direction, and I had friends, but that wasn’t the problem. It was in my head. 
I started to suffer with severe headaches. It didn’t help that I began puberty early, at 11, and was the tallest girl in school and the only one with boobs, which became the main source of fascination for every schoolboy within a 5 mile radius. 
As I was becoming interesting to boys, I became invisible to teachers, who assumed my grades were a given and focused their time and energies on others, and so the pressure for me to succeed – all by myself – increased.  
I became neurotic and frustrated, and by the time I moved to upper school and on to GCSE’s, I had huge disdain for my teachers and was quickly approaching burnout. I started skipping school but, because I was still delivering on grades, teachers mostly let it slide – it started to feel like no one cared what I did at all. So I got up to all sorts of self-destructive behaviours, with the mentality that if no one else cared, neither did I. 
I experienced my first bout of severe depression but had no clue that that was what it was and eventually, I became passively suicidal and would walk to the bus stop just wishing I could cross the road and be hit by a bus. 
Let me say now that I am, and always have been, excellent at masking. Nobody knew the full extent of how dark I’d become, and I don’t expect teachers to be mind-readers. But clearly, my behaviour changed. My attitude changed. The red flags were there, flying high, if anyone had cared to look. 
I didn’t speak to anybody about it because I didn’t understand it, I wouldn’t have known where to start. But reflecting now, the onus shouldn’t be on the child, because that’s exactly what they are – a child. The responsibility lies with us. To remove unnecessary pressures. To listen. To pay attention. 
For me, it’s clear that teachers need mental health first aid training, now more than ever considering the increased mental illness statistics. Yes, teachers are busy already, underfunded, stretched. But unfortunately, school is where children spend most of their time. Teachers are often seeing things that parents just aren’t. Of course we can’t expect them all to be counsellors, but teachers are currently on the ‘front line’ with absolutely no tools for the fight. 
It’s time to realise that, whether we like it or not, teachers could be the make or break in a young person’s mental health story. 


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