Mental health is a big topic that you often find is talked about almost every day in the media. With it being such a big part in people lives, surely it should be talked about at school? Especially since many young people feel they experience it during their time in education, and can be triggered by stress. Anna Pease, a 16-year-old student in the Kingston borough has and continues to suffer with mental illness and believes that schools are improving with their discussions on mental health.

When asked if schools provide enough help for mental health her response was “Yes, but I think it is difficult to get, for example some teachers may not be aware that a student is suffering, unless a friend or parent says something.” I later went on to ask if she though teachers needed to be more educated on the signs of mental health and what to do to help, “Yes, but I understand that with a class of 30 (students) it can be hard to be constantly aware, however I think the older the students get and the closer to exams, teachers should become more aware. There is definitely an increase in mental health towards exams.”

Anna mentioned that the support she got at her own school was “helpful” however her parents had to email in to explain after she had her first panic attack in school. “I had support from my head of year, but not until after my parents emailed in. I was referred to a school councillor who I saw once a week from year 9 to 11.”

 As well as teachers, Anna believes that students need to be further educated on mental health and the signs and symptoms they could see in themselves or their friends. “Using form time sessions to teach students would help. We did that in our school, but it mainly focused on depression when there are lots of mental illnesses that people face other than depression, such as anxiety and OCD. Schools are definitely improving when it comes to talking about mental health. I can’t talk for all schools, but at mine, when I joined in 2013 I don’t remember it being talked about, but now walking down the corridors I see posters, and we have more assemblies about it.”

When I asked if she thought that school is a big factor that affects people’s mental health since it is a place where most stress stems from, she went on to say “for me it was a distraction, even though I would mostly feel anxious in school, my mental health wasn’t as bad in school as it was at home, but it’s different for everyone.”

Mental health is discussed in school a lot more than it used to, and the stigma around it, even though still there, is getting less and less negative. The topic may be a sensitive one for some, but at the end of the interview, Anna added “I want people to be more aware. We get taught about the sign of physical illnesses such as cancer, so we should also get taught about the signs of mental illness. It is still there even though it isn’t visible.” The more the topic is talked about, especially in places such as schools, the more people will understand it and become more aware.