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.
My story starts two years ago; I was involved in quite a bad car crash. I passed my driving test when I was 19, drove for about a year and then sold my car and started driving again two years ago (I’m now 25). It took a lot of courage to start driving again. I got a new job, which I needed a car for and I was excited and full of confidence! I had the car a week when the accident happened - it felt like I lost all my confidence in a matter of seconds. The lady’s decision to pull out in front of me, across a dual carriageway, changed my life and it was beyond my control.
Some people with depression are made to feel like it is their fault for feeling the way they do and are told to simply ‘get out more’ and ‘snap out of it’. Similarly, those who have anxiety or OCD are told to ‘pull themselves together’ and to ‘stop worrying over little things’.
To the HR manager sitting at your desk, perhaps sipping a cup of coffee, whilst going through the big pile of application forms. Please do not just throw mine in the bin, as soon as you see I have a mental illness. Take the time to see the positives; the value I can bring to your organisation. You may see me as a ‘challenge’ or ‘problem’, but if you support me and give me a chance, I will show you the hard work and commitment I am capable of.