Adam, September 19, 2018

"There’s still an attitude that some people are too young to experience mental health  problems - I’ve been told that my illness is not ‘serious’." - Adam

October 10 marks World Mental Health Day and this year’s focus is on young people. As someone who was diagnosed at 16 and struggles with mental health problems in my daily life, both with anxiety and depression, I welcome this news and firmly believe youth mental health needs more focus and attention in the media and public eye.

There’s still an attitude amongst many that people can be too young to experience mental health problems, and struggles are frivolously labelled as “phases” that people will grow out of in due course. I have been told by some that my mental illness is not serious, therefore it is clear that stigma remains amongst some people. No matter what your age you can suffer with a mental health problem and no struggle should be seen as invalid on the basis of age. 

From my own experience, I only realised I was struggling when my mum picked up on it and I really wish the education was there. Throughout school we had countless assemblies and talks around drugs, alcohol, internet safety and sex education, however absolutely nothing around mental health. The chances are many students, like me, were and are struggling without even knowing and not getting the help they need. Only now because I am aware of my condition do I understand how it affects me and how to cope.

Mental illness affects my life on a daily basis and particularly the decisions I make. My anxiety means I struggle to go out, meet new people and subsequently form friendships with people. This is turn makes me more isolated and continues that vicious cycle of feeling anxious and depressed. While now I am more open, so many people suffer in silence when struggling with a mental illness and I want to use my experiences to raise awareness and encourage those people to speak out themselves. Nobody should be ashamed to have a mental health problem!

If youngsters are given no information about mental health, we simply cannot expect them to take mental health seriously or know when themselves or someone else is struggling. My school also followed the same trend: there were no lessons, assemblies or even conversations about mental health. It’s no surprise that the people who were open about their struggles were “frowned upon” and discriminated against for talking about their emotions. Schools, teachers and parents should make sure that young people are talking about mental health, and aware of it, from an early stage.

 With the year’s focus on young people, I am hoping to set-up a stall in a local college and use an interactive activity to engage with students and staff around the campus. My plan is to gather a number of Time to Change resources, including tip cards, posters and banner and start conversations that way. Let’s use this year’s World Mental Health Day as the springboard for increasing conversation around mental health and making it easier for young people.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.



This is so true that more needs to be taught about mental health in schools and universities, even teachers need more education on it. I am 31 now but when I was at uni aged 19 I went to my tutor regarding my anxiety I was really struggling and could not concentrate, it was an important time for me as it was end of year exams. He told me that it was probably my hormones and it would pass, I knew it was not just hormones as I had been here before when I was 17 with chronic anxiety so I know I had to take time off. I did not end up going back to uni when I finished as I felt the support was just not there.

Time To Change

Hi Sara, how are things at the moment? Take care, Jodie at Time to Change

The seriousness of the subject

I get absolutely livid when people joke about, or trivialize depression, anxiety, or suicide. This is not a phase or normal part of life, especially if people are DYING. Depression and Suicide are just as serious as cancer and aids, and deserve to be treated with the same respect. You wouldn't tell a chance patient that they're just going through a phase or that their illness isn't real. They're going to die! So why not do the same for people contemplating suicide??

So true!

I've had anxiety as long as I can remember. I have a very specific memory of the time I discovered that trichotillomania was calming. I was 4ish. Depression came a bit later - 11ish? 12ish? I was lucky that my Mum was supportive, although she had no idea what was going on with me (this was the late 70's - early 80's). She would reassure me, hold me while I cried, etc., although my nail-biting, hair-pulling, and other anxious behaviours drove her batty. My Dad, on the other hand... He's absolutely stable, incredibly physically healthy, pushes himself really hard, very successful in business, never valued people, and never really had friends. He's on his fifth wife (Mum was the first). He's a pretty serious narcissist. When I was a kid he mostly ignored us (we weren't very interesting yet, apparently) and would just tell me stop being stupid, get over it, or yell at me. He didn't get it at all, and it was really hurtful, and really undermining. I just started acting cheery around him whenever I saw him. Then he saw me in a major depressive episode in my 20's, and I think he finally realised that this was "a real thing". He was a pharmaceutical scientist, so he did tons of research and started trying to "fix" me; I'm not sure if that was better or worse, tbh. Try this pill, up the dose, what about this one, have you considered ECT? Therapy was a waste of time, though. I glossed over my MH problems with him most of the time (I lived abroad). In my late 30's I developed chronic pain, and my life imploded. My mental health crashed, and it's been really bad ever since. He started to blame me when I didn't get better within a year (physically and mentally). He got mean, and then downright cruel, telling me that I was lazy, useless. Obviously not what I needed, and eventually I cut off contact. Recently, after 4 years, he apologized (unprecedented!) and asked to come back into my life. After much thought and discussion I said yes, but with very serious boundaries. He's following the rules, and has only been hurtful by mistake. It felt good, but less so since I realised that his wife now has the same chronic pain I have and severe depression. Huh. Never got it with me, but with her... At least he kinda gets it now. He still medicalises everything, and is still trying to fix me, but I now see it as his way of expressing love. If he'd understood much earlier (or at least been supportive), my whole life would have been much easier, though.

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