On World Mental Health Day pupils heard from Sixth Form pupil Max Merron, who shared his moving story and unveiled a fundraising project to support and raise awareness of mental health.
The next day, pupils wore yellow to school. They met in the school Refectory at break time, donating £1 to leave a positive message on a special banner to raise money for charity Young Minds. There was also a cake sale and a raffle. The banner was sponsored by ON Tom Oxley from Bamboo Mental Health. The story was also reported on BBC Look East.
"Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day which is an issue very close to me. On the 15th of April 2019, My 20-year-old cousin, George, committed suicide. Our family is the most close-knit unit you could imagine and for something like this to happen was inconceivable. The pain and grief we have felt, has left us heartbroken. We truly believe that if George could have seen how much he was loved, the heartache we all feel and what a void he has left in our lives, I don’t think he would have made the same decision and perhaps would have been brave enough to ask his family or friends for help before it was too late.
George never spoke of his low feelings, depression or suicidal thoughts, if anything he was the complete opposite, the laughing, smiling, capable, & funny cousin that I looked up to and adored. Unbeknown to our family and his closest friends, George was depressed and started experiencing suicidal thoughts. George had one public face in which everything appeared perfect and a private secret in which he couldn’t confide or face telling those closest to him that he was feeling depressed and needed help. We all would have helped him but we just didn’t know.
If you fall and break your leg or your arm and people see you are injured and need support, a doctor helps put you back together. Kindness from your friends, family and physio is offered to get you back to good health. Sadly with a mental illness, it’s nearly impossible to see and there is a huge reluctance for young people in admitting you are struggling and not okay.
Just like any part of your body that breaks, the mind breaks too. The important thing for young people to know are the signs, so you can get the help and support available (whether in our school, our community and through charities like Young Minds and most importantly understand - it’s OK not to be ok and ask for help.
Any young person struggling with their mental health needs to know they are not alone. The statistics are so high and at some point in our teenage lives, 1 in 5 of us will face a mental health issue, big or small. However, you need to get help before it spirals out of control and it controls you. So be brave, speak up, speak out and ask for help from a friend, family member, school, or charity like Young Minds.
You just need to act early to prevent your mental health deteriorating.
Mental illness is so common and comes in all walks of life and can be triggered by any number of issues. It’s caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, it’s not your fault; it just happens. This imbalance causes distortion and can lead to any number of issues all linked to mental illness- eating disorders, self-harming, drug use, OCD, psychosis, isolation and personality disorder, you don’t ask for it, it just happens. It can be mild or paralysing and often progressive if you don’t get help early.
You have to tell someone you are struggling. You have to be brave to take the first step and ask for help because it can be fixed, it will pass, you will get better - but only with proper support.
I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence because it must be torture to feel so alone and I don’t wish anyone to feel the pain and heartbreak our family suffered because we didn’t know how George was feeling.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health, look out for each other and above all be kind, you never know what struggles are going on behind the scenes. Social media certainly does not help with everyone pretending to be perfect. Social media should be avoided if you do feel vulnerable. Likewise, it should not be used as a tool to hurt with words and pictures. Whether it’s innocently intended or not, your actions, which you think are funny, could have consequences that you don’t even realise.
So in our school, if everyone could be a little kinder and realise their words and actions can have consequences and if you can’t say anything nice or kind, say nothing at all.
Today as we recognise Young Minds World Mental Health Day, we ask you to support our ‘wear yellow ‘ campaign tomorrow Friday 11th Oct by wearing yellow, the Young Minds charity colour - choose something with a little or a lot of the colour yellow (a Norwich City kit is a good start!)
Bring in any donations you can for our non-uniform day, for our cake sale and a giant popcorn raffle at first break.
Finally, thanks to Bamboo Mental Health a local charity set up by ON Tom Oxley, we will all be able to sign a giant banner promoting our school commitment to supporting our friends and breaking the struggles of Mental Illness. Now please remember some key messages,
- It’s ok not to be ok
- You’re not alone
- It will pass
- Speak Up Speak Out
- You’re Loved
- Someone’s always ready to listen
Thank you for listening."