If I was a 12 year old, and I was told that there exists a vast depth of sadness that I would come across in the future, honestly, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
However, if they told me I might have bad thoughts, hear things and do bad things, then I may not have reached the mental state I live with today. Those closest to me could’ve noticed signs quicker & I wouldn’t have fallen as low or as fast. Through the education about mental health issues, I might not have lost so many friends if they understood the things an illness comes with. Like many others, I can remember approximately when I started to feel depressed and when I had my first panic attack. When you’re a child, there is so much possibility, and yet when any of these things happened, I assumed there must be something wrong with me. I knew how to multiply, write imaginative stories and I knew every part of a flower. But I didn’t know what a panic attack was, I didn’t know who to go to when I was feeling depressed and maybe more importantly, I was never told how to deal with any of this.
I remember crying constantly and having panic attacks at school. People would tell me, ‘you’re just a worrier’, ‘you worry too much,’ ‘see there was nothing cry about in the first place.’ I knew there was nothing to cry about, so why was I crying? I would think about how I could die. ‘What if I just stop walking in this road, that car will come and this would be over.’ And then a friend would pull me out of the road, saying, ‘Damn girl you’re such a slow walker.’ In Year 9, everything was becoming too much too handle. I was drowning in a boat with holes in it.
If only 12 year old very tiny me, knew that this feeling of drowning was depression & my loss of breath is a panic attack. If counsellors were brought into schools, my anxiety could have been spotted way back then. Even parent & teacher seminars on what to do if you know a child is going through an mental illness. All of these things could aide children in the long term.
And it's not just education on mental health that is needed, but education for the LGBT Community too.
As an ally to the LGBTQ+ Community, I know schools’ education has a big role to play in how comfortable people are about coming out. When children aren’t informed in school, they come to believe they’re wrong or invalid; maybe even worse, they can think other children are wrong or invalid. Subtle subliminal messaging, such as having gay parents in lessons about family will enforce the reality that some people have two moms, two dads, or even more parents.
Also, there needs to be more education about trans people. Such as, how an individual can go about becoming the gender they identify as, directing them to the right medical opportunities and how to cope with any dysphoria they’re experiencing/who to go to for help. Teachers have a duty to keep their classrooms safe and inclusive. It’s important for teachers & parents alike to be aware of homophobia, transphobia etc between their children, and teach them that some people don’t want to identify as a boy or a girl and that is absolutely okay. Showing children role models that are from the LGBTQ+ community or are mentally ill proves that their gender, sexuality, mentality, aren’t a thing that held them back, but made them even better. Teaching about the LGBTQ+ Community & Mental Health is imperative because it shapes how a child thinks of themselves & how they’ll present themselves. Safe, accepting, all - embracing environments are so important, don't let your children miss out.