Dear Mental Health in Education,
‘Just kill me now’
‘Wish I was dead’
‘Let me jump out that window’
A handful of phrases that surround young people constantly.
Suicidal lingo has been normalised: something to be laughed about instead of concerned; to relate to and not repulsed by; a daily reality, sweeping the nation.
I don’t know where it went wrong, perhaps when Michael Gove became secretary for education.
A spiral. Nothing was good enough. Everyone pushed beyond their limits.
Whatsapp chats were no longer about making plans to go out but helping friends with anxiety attacks.
No faith, no hope, low expectations.
At my school we were fortunate enough to have two onsite counsellors.
There was a waiting list.
I have seen children as young as 10 wondering whether they even have a future ahead of them, if they fail the 11+.
I have seen strong and compassionate girls reduced to hysteria and sickness in the lead up to their GCSEs at only 15.
I have seen intelligent and worthy people look as though the world has collapsed around them, led along by our ‘false hope’ university system, barely adults.
As soon as a child is categorised at the age of 11 (placed into state, grammar or private education) society sets them on a path they are futile to escape.
Those who do are the exception, not the rule.
The structure thrives on restriction.
Something needs to change but we don’t know how. Stress and self-deprecation have become the foundations holding together the education system.
There is no support or awareness, with problems swept under the rug as this toxic attitude becomes more and more embedded into our youth. It is time to turn hope of a brighter future into a reality, not just a slogan for education .
When will things change?