Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people every year and no one should feel ashamed. By sharing our experiences, together we can end the stigma.

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As a teacher with a mental illness, I’m a role model, not a risk

I’m a school teacher with a mental illness.  I was subjected to two years of relentless bullying and constant questioning of my performance. On one occasion, another staff member swore at me because I was anxious. They were relentless in their criticism of the symptoms of my anxiety. Questioning my mental health, my competence and my capabilities as a teacher. This only served to increase my anxiety and upset, the more I got upset, the more they questioned my fitness to teach.

I still don't feel able to talk about the worst parts of my mental health

I remember the first conversation I had about mental health. I didn’t mean to: I must have been about 13, and I’d not been feeling myself for weeks, but I had no idea what was wrong with me. My school friend remarked that I had been quiet recently and didn’t seem myself. Back then I didn’t really know what mental health was and I certainly didn’t put a label on what I was feeling. Now in my late twenties, it’s a relief to put a label on it – and to be able to go online and read stories of others’ experiences.

Talking about mental health will lessen the stigma

Just before Christmas this year I began to have thoughts that weren't entirely to my liking. I put it down to the usual feelings I get around that time. They'll pass.

Christmas came around, the thoughts were getting worse. The nagging thought that something isn't right. I was deeply unhappy. It was only Christmas Day afternoon that I found myself at peace. As a family we were all enjoying time together.

I'm a chatty person - but talking about mental health is hard

I’m no stranger to talking really. In 2014 I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous session and poured my heart out to total strangers. Professionally I can stand in front of 500 people and do a half-hour presentation. I can walk into a pub and introduce myself to absolutely anybody - as long as I am not talking about my mental state.

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