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I wanted to kill myself aged 11, and this is what I have to say to Theresa May

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Mental Health issues in this country amongst young people is drastically on the rise. It is estimated that there are 80,000 young people who are affected by a mental health issue in the UK today.

In the national curriculum, there are ZERO mentions of mental health - although it is estimated that a vast majority of people who develop a mental health issue do so in childhood.

Meanwhile, Theresa May and other politicians simply pay lip-service to the crisis surrounding mental health amongst young people. For too long it has been ‘a problem for another day’, always someone else’s problem - and we have been the ones to suffer from the ineptitude in Westminster.

I can speak from very personal experience as when I was 11, I wanted to kill myself, and then through my adolescent years experienced paranoia. I just didn’t know where to turn. I bottled everything up for six years. That’s a third of my life.

My teachers were excellent, when I finally told my story, and I was able to advise them on how to spot the signs of a pupil suffering in silence and what to do. But why should I have had to do that? It has to come from central government, not from child sufferers themselves.

The Prime Minister spoke about wanting to “create a society that works for everyone”, but for that to work she, and her maladroit Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, need to not only stop privatising the NHS, but enable more pop-up clinics to be funded so young people can randomly go in and talk about their problems to a stranger. Because many find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know, as opposed to family and friends. 

Moreover, May’s administration has become swamped by Brexit. There is still a country to run. The comments she made earlier this year about properly treating and funding the growing crisis was welcome, but barely two days later, her MPs blocked an amendment to a bill that would force PSHE teaching to become compulsory in all schools. She seems to struggle to understand the link.

The good for nothing else Education Secretary Justine Greening could decide to make teaching about mental health a departmental priority. Think about the benefits. Teachers can understand how to spot the signs early and students themselves could identify that they could have a problem and seek help, as opposed to suffering in silence and seemingly alone.

But all that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? Sometimes in politics the simple steps, thye steps that would be most effective, aren’t taken. Instead we get all these big and fancy ideas that are good soundbites, but are too complex and don’t have the effect on people that they should.

It’s time Theresa May, and indeed Westminster, got back to basics in tackling this crisis, because that is exactly what it is - regardless of how it is dressed up.




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