I struggled with mental health issues when I attended secondary school, triggered by moving country to Ireland and leaving the familiar behind. That coupled with exam pressures left me with crippling anxiety and depression thrown in. I had no idea how to handle the “blues”, stress or difficult situations and was seen as shy and quiet, which actually isn’t my personality at all! I went on to university and had to drop out. Unfortunately my shy and quiet nature caught the attention of the popular group, and I was bullied. In my early twenties I spent the best part of a year hardly leaving my apartment, gained weight and just felt miserable.
Nowadays I’m left wondering how different things would have been for me had there been mental health education at school. I was very happy to see an article this week in The Irish Sun where our Mental Health Minister Helen McEntee discusses plans for mental health classes in schools – 300 class hours before Junior Cert. Read the whole article below, a stark reminder of the fact that Ireland has the 4th highest rate of suicide in the world. But I’m really happy to see Minister McEntee a) in this role, no better woman, and b) tackling an area sorely neglected in the past – we have Physical Education in schools, it’s high time for Mental Health Education too.