Hollie, October 25, 2017

"People of all ages, should feel comfortable discussing their struggles, without the fear of judgement." - Hollie

The number of people with mental health problems in the UK is rapidly growing: now one in four.

Young people, in fact, people of all ages, should feel comfortable opening up to others and discussing their struggles, without the fear of judgement. Depression and anxiety feel like an internal battle inside your own head, and it can be difficult to talk about and make sense of your own self-destructive thoughts and behaviours. The first step in recovery is to accept you have a problem - sometimes this is the most difficult step, therefore too many people suffer in silence.

It is important to have a support network; this can include family, friends, and anyone willing to help and be a shoulder to cry on. However, sometimes it can be difficult to talk to close family and friends. You may not want to worry the people you care about the most. And sometimes, young people feel embarrassed by the way they are feeling and do not want to "let their friends and family down". (This is not the case - asking for help is not a sign of weakness).

Throughout my mental health journey, I had access to a learning support centre/ student hub, known as the LOC. These should be available in most educational institutions. They were not at all mental health professionals, but a lovely team who supported students with various issues. They helped me in many ways; by offering advice and encouragement (along with access to mental health professionals), but also just by checking in with me, offering a cup of tea and being someone to talk to. I was constantly told that their “door is always open" - this acted as a great comfort and made me feel less alone as I always knew they were #fightingyourcorner

There were times when I pushed away the people offering help. I felt I did not deserve anyone to help or care about me. Thoughts like this are very common for people with anxiety and depression. However, they taught me that perseverance, when helping people, is a vital aspect, as it can be difficult for a sufferer to accept help at the beginning of their journey.

When supporting others, you must understand that recovery is not linear; there will be blips.  You should try to encourage them to keep going and keep moving forward, no matter what obstacles they face. I am very grateful to have received support from Claire and Andrea, and they will continue to support other students as they go above and beyond their duties.

When you suffer from depression, it can be very difficult to open up, creating a deeper hole, which seems impossible to climb out of. When helping someone with a mental health condition, it is the small gestures that make the biggest difference!

Anyone can suffer from a mental health condition, it does not discriminate. Anyone can also help a peer fight against their mental illness.

It's important to discuss mental health, so everyone can receive the level of kindness and support that I did.

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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.